Hey fellow badasses, I have played a lot of Battleborn over the course of CTT and Open Beta, and almost all of it I have spent playing Thorn. My success with this character has been immense, and I have not run into any Thorns on my ventures that have impressed me. Most of them seem to try and play the character like a sniper, or they don’t take advantage of her incredible mobility. In an effort to reduce my cringing, and to help the community develop a deeper understanding of Thorn, I’ve decided to give some insight on how to play her, what her strengths and weaknesses are, and why I consider her to be one of the stronger characters in the game if played well.
Thorn is your sort of obligatory archer in this MOBA-esque fps. That being said, you have to play her like she has a bow in her hands. She does not have a sniper rifle, nor does she possess a machine gun. Though, she does have sniping capabilities, I do believe they are best used when enemies are attempting to get away. Thorn wields a bow, which is a mid to semi-long range weapon that can be used to do devastating amounts of damage.
- High Burst Damage
- Unparalled overall mobility
- Good wave clear
- Surprisingly tanky with her high health regen
- Good matchup spread if played correctly.
- High Skill Cap (Though some might consider this a pro)
- If you do get CC’d it really hurts. Especially slows.
- Can be reliant on cool downs.
- Some champs are just really, really annoying to hit.
Her talent is Eldrid Vitality. Like all Eldrid, Thorn caries no shield, but she does have insane health regeneration. This makes her deceivingly tanky, and I actually prefer it over having a shield. Her health regen allows her to stay in the game for extended periods of time without having to ever visit base to get full health again. Instead of backing, you can go grab shards, or do something else productive outside of battle while your health regenerates.
Thorns first, and probably primary ability is Volley. Volley fires 5 arrows in a horizontal line that each deal 42-56 damage. These arrows also ricochet off of world terrain. This move is probably thorns best move and it is really, really good. If you hit somebody point blank with these, you’ve just dealt a ton of damage. Aside from using them on enemy characters, you can also use them to wave clear and 1 hit crystals. I’ll get more into that when I talk about Thorn’s helix.
Blight is Thorns second ability. She summons a field of corruption for 6 seconds, that deals 32-42 damage to enemies in the field every .5 seconds. I did say Volley was probably thorns primary, but Blight is by no means far behind it. Blight is an extremely versatile move and becomes even better for thorn as she levels up and upgrades her helix.
Thorn’s ultimate is Wrath of the Wild. After a brief charging period, she trows an energy bomb (Insert DBZ reference here), that explodes, dealing damage and knocking enemies back. Oh boy. This ultimate is probably one of the most bursty ultimates in the game, likely only rivaled by Benedicts. Not only does this baby do heaps of damage, but it’s a real surprise to someone when they’re at half health and they get 1 shot by this thing. It’s amazing, and beautiful, and everything I could ever want in a move. Get to know it, love it, go on dates with it.
Thorns passive is Natures Curse. Enemies hit with a charged arrow are cursed for 8 seconds. Skills and charged arrows deal 25% additional damage to cursed targets. For some reason I thought it was 35%, but the wiki says 25%. Anyways, the curse is something I really just started to kind of take real advantage of. Though I think it’s not something that should be used all of the time, given it can be difficult to hit, especially to the newest of players, it’s still pretty good. The damage buff is VERY noticeable, and worth it if you can get it without too much trouble.
Thorn’s helix is pretty straight forward. I’ll go over each choice, which one I think is better, and why.
On the left, we have Swampfoot, which slows enemies damaged by blight; while on the right we have Piercing Volley, which lets Volley arrows go through multiple targets.
Swampfoot isn’t necessarily a bad choice, because CC is really strong in this game. Piercing Volley really just outclasses Swampfoot. With Piercing volley, your arrows now go through any enemy, but also ricochet off of terrain. Meaning, if lined up correctly, you can hit a target multiple times with your volley arrows. I have a clip that I might provide later of this, because it’s crazy. Piercing volley also drastically increases Thorns wave clear capabilities. If you face enemy minions, you can volley the little ones in front, and have the arrows bounce up to hit the big one. Another perk to Piercing Volley is if an enemy character tries to run away behind minions, or if their friend attempts to body block for them, you can volley through it all and get a kill. So good.
Cursed Earth on the left makes all of thorns arrows apply curse if Thorn is standing in her blight, while Fell Wind on the right gives Thorn a move speed buff of 30% when she touches her blight. Cursed Earth is kind of a weird thing here, because you would have to summon blight on you, to use it, meaning it wouldn’t really do that much damage. Fell Wind is definitely the right choice, as it gives Thorn a hefty amount of move speed that can be used for kiting and really contributes to making you untouchable. The mutator her is blight brawler. It makes your melee attacks curse enemies when your’re standing in blight. Not great.
Draw Strength is something I certainly contemplated, but volley already goes through enemies, so arrows going through enemies is just kind of meh… Also, Burst Propulsion adds INSANE amounts of mobility to Thorn’s already mobile-heavy kit. Burst Propulsion pushes thorn back from the direction she’s meleeing in. And yes, it can be used in the air. This means, at level 3, Thorn can go ANYWHERE Benedict can with a jump and melee. You can get to the top middle platform from the ground, and you can get on the little walkways on the platform too. This also allows Thorn to really just traverse most of the map with a little more ease because you can now jump over some of the little things, too. Not to mention, if someone gets too close to you, you can melee them and effectively double how far they are from you. A little more on this later.
Here you have Kreshek’s Judgement, which lets your volley arrows curse on hit. It’s a neat thought, but the best part about cursing enemies is that skills do more damage, right? This option just isn’t that great. The mutator here is your volley is reduced to 3 arrows, with a 66% damage increase. I’ve tried this one, and it sounds great, but it’s not. The best choice here is Nockout. Nockout lets you shoot two additional arrows in your volley, and in a wider arc. Overall, I feel like this gives more damage than the mutator and is in general more useful and forgiving.
This is the only helix option where I find the left side is the better one. Hextension increases curse bonus damage and duration to 35% and 12 seconds, respectively. I already covered earlier how good curse can be if you land it. This just makes it better. The mutator here is Fiendish Curse, which gives you 100% shield penetration to cursed targets. When I first saw this, I thought it was amazing, and there are a few cases where I can see it might be good (Against Ambra’s dumb over shield passive). The thing is, when you curse someone with a fully charged arrow, it either already takes out their whole shield, or at least takes out most of it. The extra 10% damage you do to a cursed enemy will be a lot more useful in the same situation. The last option here is Hexsanguination, which increases Curs’s damage per second. Take Hextension.
Brutal blight increases blights damage by 15%. Honestly, not a bad choice, and it could possibly be worth. I did say earlier that Volley was more of Thorn’s primary ability though, and I stand by that here when I say Swift-Volley is better. 20% cooldown on Volley is just really nice to have.
Please tell me you’re already wanted to take Thorn’s high jump, Vaulter Hunter (Borderlands Reference <3) here. So, the mobility I mentioned with Thorn’s Burst Propulsion at level 3 gets even crazier here. Thorn’s jump gets increased A LOT, and you no longer have to use her melee attack to jump over the small stuff. You do still need to melee to get on top of structures, but it’s a lot easier to do now. This also increases your kiting ability exponentially. You can jump over any enemy you please, over and over again. More on this later when I talk about matchups.
Other choices here are Eagle-Eye, which increases thorns accuracy by 50%, and the mutator - Phasing Arrows, which gives Thorn a passive 25% to shield pen.
Enduring Blight gives your blight a +6 second duration. I don’t think that’s very necessary though, that’s quite a long time. I think Distant Blight (100% increased cast distance) is just better. I guess this one can be down to preference though.
This one can also come down to preference, if you’re really scared of dying. Archer’s Boon gives Volley 30% life steal, while Kreshek’s Rage gives Volley a 15% damage buff. I always take the damage buff.
Wild Judgement makes your ult bounce through the world up to 5 times. It does do damage on every bounce still, but it’s less than the regular one. I can’t see why this one would be good in PvP, because you usually use your ult to finish people. Why would you want to nerf its damage? Thorns final mutator is here, and it’s called Trap Training. Wrath of the Wile will now stick on impact and detonate with proximity or after 10 seconds. I also fail to see how this one is any good. Why would you want a proximity ult, when you can just hit them anyways and have nothing change? The best choice here is Earthrender, and it’s only somewhat useful. Earthrender makes your ult leave behind a blight field after it detonates. This increases your damage on the target, and has even landed me a few kills with the blight. You can also use the blight to chase any survivors if you need to, assuming you spec’d into speed at level 2.
- Piercing Volley
- Fell Wind
- Burst Propulsion
- Swift Volley
- Vaulting Hunter
- Distant Blight
- Kreshek’s Rage
There are plenty of ways to gear Thorn, but I think the best stats to go after are attack damage, move speed, and health regen. You could also go skill damage, I’ve seen a max shield build as well to give Thorn a shield. I think health regen is just the best thing to go because it makes her almost unkillable. If you pair her incredible mobility with insane health regen, you’ll get health much faster than you’ll lose it. WIth a good health regen item, it’ll be like you’re constantly at a healing station, even when you’re fighting people.
Thorn has very fast move speed, and can easily be the first person out of the gate. When you run out, grab all the little shards on your way and run straight for an enemy accelerator. Throw your blight underneath it, but also partway into the lane so it’ll hurt minions as they go by. Take out the enemy accelerator as quick as you can. You can also use volley to speed things up here. Be careful not to get killed, and know that the accelerator is not worth dying for. Just like in any game, you want the least amount of deaths as possible. Don’t die if you don’t have to, or if it’s not worth it.
At the 28 minute mark, run and grab shards form the shard towers. Use volley on them if you can, as it will clear them remarkably fast. Best case scenario here, you’re level 2 and you can throw down your blight for a move speed buff to traverse the map to get more than one tower. If you have a health regen item, buy it first. It’ll keep you in the game longer and from wasting the time of going back to base. Going back to base is detrimental to your leveling speed.
When you’re clearing minions, throw a blight underneath them. Again, volley the little ones in front at an angle that the arrows bounce up to the big one. Volley can also hit minion crit spots when you’re in front of them because of the way it goes through them and ricochets. Her wave clear is pretty good, but she has to use her skills for it.
Thorn also has a little auto aim gimmick with her zoom in that you can sometimes use.
Fighting enemies as Thorn
RULE #1 - It’s sad I have to emphasize this, but NEVER STOP MOVING. Unless you are sniping someone who is running away from you, keep moving. Jump around, especially if you have high jump. Take advantage of your absurd movement that you have over literally every other character. Thorn has the best overall mobility in game. Please, use it. It hurts seeing Thorns stand still.
First thing is try and curse them, if you can. It will make your life a hell of a lot easier if you can increase your damage against your enemy. Try and save your abilities until after you curse them, but if you can’t curse them, don’t keep wasting time on it. Don’t keep using charged shots after the curse, unless you’re sure you can hit every single one. Curse does increase charge shot damage, but it’s only worth if you land them. Otherwise, it’s a dps loss. Second, put a blight field down on them, in front of them, or behind them. I find it best to put the blight slightly on them, but also between you and your opponent. Either they’ll walk out of it by going away from you, or they’ll walk around it, making more space between the two of you. Best case scenario, they walk through it to get to you. Here, you have two options. You can run past them into your blight to get your move speed buff and make them chase you around. If they get near you, just melee them back into your blight. If you have an enemy already on you, just blight underneath you and get out of there.
Volley obviously does the most damage when you’re point blank because more arrows hit the enemy, but you should really just use it on cool down, unless you’re trying to really secure a kill.
When playing against melee characters, use Burst Propulsion to through them off as to where you are. There are all kinds of jukes you can pull off with this move because of how it suddenly changes the direction you’re moving. Keep in mind, you can get to places where melee enemies can’t even touch you. They’ll look at you all kinds of helpless as you’re shooting them.
Really though, stop standing still.
Thorns Match-up Spread
Thorns first bad matchup. Ambra is a nuisance to pretty much everyone, but this is probably the hardest person for thorn to kill. Sunspots make fighting her really annoying, because if you don’t kill them first, you lose. She locks on to you, while you have to aim and hit her toothpick body. Really hate this champ. Best thing to do is try to out range her. Thorn has a little cheese on Ambra with her ult, though. If you get the Ambra to killing range with ult, you can ult and kill her without her overshield procing. Keep in mind her over shield goes away after 4 seconds, whether you’ve damaged it or not.
Attikus, Boldur, Isic, Ghalt, El Dragon, Kelvin, Montana, Shayne & Aurox, Kleese, Toby
All these are big bodies. That means your curse should be really easy to land, and you should be dealing increased damage to all of these guys. I have all of these guys in one category because Thorn is just strong against them. She can also dodge them all exceptionally well because of her mobility. You shouldn’t get hit by any stuns or skill shots here that could hurt you. If you do get hit, you can probably survive fine assuming you have good health regen. The Ghalt pull into stun could be fatal, though. Do your best to stay out of most of some of these guys’ melee range and you’ll do great.
This matchup is pretty neutral. You dodge his rockets, while he’s kind of hard to hit. You can’t blight him if he’s playing smart and is in the air the whole time. If he touches the ground next to you, you murder him.
Watch out, this guy might just tickle you to death! No, really though, there’s no threat here. You can jump over his dash, his blind is short, and you can stay out of his melee range. His TMP kinda sucks. You can also see him ulting from literally a mile away.
She’s kind of weak overall. You can tell whenever she uses her clone, and at that point, you could chase her if she’s low or just walk away and see if she follows you. She’s always desperate to kill you, so just keep her in your blight and shoot her down. She’s also little and kind of hard to hit. If you see her start to ult, either melee her, or just walk out of it. Mobility, plz.
Galilea is still kind of strong post nerf, and is the other annoying matchup for thorn. You can use your jumps and speed to avoid getting stunned and really just kite her forever. It’s just if she does get on you, or if she stuns you, it’s gonna hurt. Really badly. Her shield is also a pain in the ass to deal if she uses it right. All in all, still manageable.
If the Maquis is bad, you can actually get some really strong damage from afar. Best case is to charge him, though. He isn’t really a threat to kill because it’s unlikely he’ll hit you if you play right. However, he’s kind of a twig himself, meaning it can be hard to actually land arrows on him. I normally don’t bother shooting his owls because they seem not to do a lot to you and they’re a pain to hit. Stay out of his slow, and you’ll kill him before he can ever get the chance to kill you.
Mellka, Orendi, Oscar Mike, Whiskey Foxtrot
Dodge their stuff, and you win. Really, though. Mellka can be kind annoying to deal with because she’s also mobile, but she can’t hit you with her melee. Orendi’s pillars are easily avoidable, and you can even avoid her ult with your high jumps. Oscar Mike can be a bit surprising with his damage, but he’s not that much of a threat. You can jump over his napalm and take no damage, and you can get out of his ult pretty easily. The hardest part about dealing with Oscar Mike is just his invisibility. You have AoE attacks though. Whiskey Foxtrot is a joke.
He’s a support, not really a duelist, though he can hurt. Curse him if you can, and try your best to land a volley on the top of his head. Always remember to kill him first. He can be hard to hit though with his high move speed.
These guys are super easy to kite. Jump around them, blight them, do whatever you want. Even if Rath knocks you up, you can still melee in the air to change direction. These two are just super easy for Thorn.
Ugh, she’s not hard to kill but holy hell is she annoying. It’s just a real pain when you’re about to kill someone and they have an overshield all of a sudden. Her mark can be a pain because it locks on, but if you can avoid all the other attacks, you should be able to win.
I can split some of these clusters of characters up if people want more in depth advice for certain characters.
Thanks for reading my guide, I’ll be editing stuff here and there as time passes. I’m fairly certain the Thorn in Open Beta will be the same one in live. This guide is mainly a brief(ish) overview on the character for the amount of time I had left in the beta to write it. Feel free to ask any questions if you want a more in depth explanation of something. Good luck! Hope the guide helped.
Add me on PSN at X-R4Y-_F34RLEzZ -Yeah, I know it’s a mouthful.
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Update 4/23: Currently working on polishing and going into more detail over some information. I will post an edited version of this guide on the main Battleborn forums on release that I will also keep track with as new patches happen and mechanics are discovered. Thanks!