Before we get started, I’ll admit that I was completely uninterested in her when she came out. The concept was cool, but the execution seemed boring as hell. “Oh look, it’s Heimerdinger 2.0,” I thought. I was wrong.
While Zyra’s model isn’t the best they’ve made (I’m still saying it’s a tie between Darius and Draven), she definitely has the most interesting spell effects (or lack of ‘effects,’ really). Everything to my notice has its own model. If you read the interview with the art team, they mention that this was a big part of her design. They wanted everything to feel alive and writhing and they definitely nailed it.
I’m not the biggest fan of her voice or… Well, her look at all. It seems like they overdid it on the evil, badass lady archetype. She seems over the top (and that’s saying something, considering we’ve got people like Brand) and it doesn’t really work for her. I feel like a more predatory, crafty feel would work better. I’m also not too terribly huge a fan of her second skin. Come on, Riot, we know you have better ideas than ‘X champion except on fire!‘
But nobody comes here to listen to me bitch and nitpick about character design. You guys want to know how she plays. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that she’s anything like Heimerdinger. While Heimer’s all about laying siege to a lane and then doing… uh… nothing outside of grenade stuns late game, Zyra’s far more mobile and aggressive. She’s all about dropping seeds and comboing them into the right plant at the right time.
Speaking of those, the Thorn Spitter definitely seems like a better choice unless you catch someone in the snare with Grasping Roots. Vine Lashers are limited in use due to the number of blink-like escapes (Flash, Vayne’s Tumble, Tristana’s Rocket Jump, etc). The slow on Lashers is nice though and it makes landing things easier. If I had to compare her to someone, she’s a lot like Brand. Very combo-y with a few different options depending on what she needs to do.
Zyra’s at her best when she’s allowed to spawn plants and be aggressive. If you keep things well-warded and play fairly smart, you can keep the enemy starved by keeping minions pushed to the tower. However, without her plants, her damage falls off significantly and your seeds can be destroyed with no real consequence (outside of being revealed), so definitely get them in plant form as soon as possible.
As far as my personal build goes, I’ve experimented using both my “AP with Mana” rune page and my “Manaless AP” rune page. While regen is nice, the bonus AP from my manaless page definitely seems to be the best choice. You get plenty of mana regen from your two Doran Rings (my go-to second item on mana mages). I’ve found you get the most bang for your buck by maxing Deadly Bloom, then Rampant Growth. Grasping Vines is really just there for the snare and slowing plants.
All in all, if you liked Brand, you’ll probably like Zyra. I won’t say buy her outright, because it definitely took me a few games before my disinterest turned into enjoyment. It’s best to wait for free week on this one unless you’re starved for a new mage to play. As always, thanks for reading and have a good’un.