"Bob and weave, you fool!"
With a distinct character, blazing of flavour and with hilarious quotes (that among other things features the ever so smooth Marvin Gaye), the Goblin Alchemist is easily my favorite Warcraft 3 character. Unfortunately, we rarely see the peculiar Goblin/Ogre duo in competitive play. This leads many to believe that Alchemist is a lousy hero choice with no use. However, I think there is more than meets the eye with this lovely brute.
From the official lore of Goblin Alchemist:
“In this unconventional pairing, a fanatical Goblin master rides on the back of his Ogre slave. Despite undergoing a series of chemical ‘treatments’ to enforce compliance, the Ogre sometimes shows signs of independence and even outright defiance. However, these outbursts are swiftly quelled by the Goblin master, who can be like his concoctions -- harsh and volatile. Though personal differences may at times distract this duo, when it comes to biological warfare and raw, brute strength, the Goblin Alchemist and his Ogre slave are truly at the top of their game!”
Before going into the playstyle, I think a reminder of the spell-kit is in order, since we see the character so infrequently.
Sprays waves of healing mist that heals units in a target area.
The Alchemist causes his Ogre to enter a chemically induced rage, increasing movement rate by 50% and increasing attack rate.
Hurls a flask of acid at a target. The flask breaks upon impact, splashing a powerful acid on nearby hostile units. Decreases armor; deals slightly less damage over time to nearby targets
ls a target unit instantly, transforming it into gold which is added to your available gold! Transmute cannot be used on Heroes, or creeps above level 5.
First off, I would never recommend anyone to pick a hero solely because of their ultimate, but I must comment on how ridiculously powerful this one is. I would almost rate it as high af Metamorphosis. If you manage to achieve chrysopoeia and get the Midas’ touch in a drawn out game, you can get an economical lead while chipping away on your foe’s army.
Alchemist has the highest base damage with a staggering average of 41,5 at level 1! Granted, his attack rate is rather bad, though, which is where Chemical Rage finds its use. It is also worth noting that the Goblin Alchemist can attack both ground and air units without needing an orb effect.
Picking Goblin Alchemist as a counter
It is almost impossible not to love Yumiko. Time and time again we see him shaking up the meta; choosing Bloodmage as first hero, skipping barracks, etc. In recent times we have also seen him use his Goblin Alchemist to counter Pandaren Brewmaster.
Moon vs. Yumiko - NSL 4 LB Round 1
The Healing Spray can completely annul any attempt of AoE damage against your army. This includes Breath of Fire, Fan of Knives, Blizzard and several other spells that can be annoying to deal with.
Acid Bomb shines the most when your opponent masses a ton of small pesky minions, like ghouls or archers. Applying a damage over time effect on them as well as reducing their armor make them drop like flies. Even late-game, where the damage might not be as strong, armor reduction is still very impactful.
The much riskier (and rarer) alternative is going full on beast-mode, aiming to get the lvl3 Chemical Rage as fast as possible by picking Alchemist as the first hero. One could argue that this is a strategy, where the ogre takes complete control and turn Goblin Alchemist into Ogre Juggernaut.
You may have noticed I have not touched upon the Achilles' heel of the hero, which namely is his extremely low armor (being only 1 until level 5). Goblin Alchemist dies quickly if your opponent focuses him. But will your average ladder opponent think of going on the aggressive with an Ogre on steroids running after them, shredding everything on his way to pieces? I am doubtful.
To mitigate the weaknesses of Alchemist, items such as ring of protection, slippers of agility, etc. can be of great use.
Paladin as a second hero can work wonders with this strategy as that makes for extra survive-ability on your Damage dealer. Much like how the synergy between Blademaster/Shadow Hunter and Death Knight/Lich is: Damage combined with Healing.
I do not want to be in denial: The Alchemist has some glaring short-comings. He does, however, definitely also have some unseen potential, mainly as a counter to AoE. The biggest upside about Goblin Alchemist is that you – in my experience – always have a blast, whether you win or lose, when you make the opponent “taste your fiery potions!”