I recently took an opportunity to share some of the feedback I received from pro players at the G Star event in Korea via a Q & A, and I was interested to see your reactions to that discussion in the blog comments and on the forum. I noticed that some players were worried that we don’t take the community’s feedback into account, and that we only listen to pro players. While we base our balance decisions on many different factors, including pro player feedback, internal testing, tournament play and more, our player community remains a vital source of feedback about StarCraft II. Every week we comb various forums and sites to get a feel for what our players are experiencing, and I thought I’d comment on some of the concerns we’ve seen appear in the community recently.
Mass Mutalisks vs. Protoss
This has remained a community concern since we commented on the issue at BlizzCon. In light of the community’s consistent feedback, we’ve decided to re-evaluate our decision to address this issue in Heart of the Swarm though, as I mentioned in my last Q&A, we prefer to avoid making major design changes until an expansion, since that’s a time when unit changes and dramatic shifts in strategy are all to be expected. At the moment, we’re investigating how much of an impact mutalisks have on the PvZ in order to gauge whether a change is truly necessary, and if so, when the most appropriate time would be to implement a change. If the data suggests that we should make a move sooner, then changing the protoss phoenix seems like it could be the best approach. Still, due to the significant impact it could have on all protoss match ups, we’re being very careful.
Protoss Win Rate is Too Low in Tournaments
In terms of global tournament wins overall, we’re seeing zerg win the most tournaments, whereas in Korea terran is winning the most with zerg not being far behind. Protoss players haven’t brought home quite as many tournament victories compared to the other two races in major tournaments. On the other hand, protoss matchup win percentages are actually very solid in major tournaments. So while protoss tournament players aren’t winning as many tournaments, their match to match win percentages in the same tournaments look very solid.
With that said, we’re currently discussing whether a minor, more generic buff to bring the protoss more in line with the other races would be appropriate. Please note that we’re not considering a major change, and we’re still carefully analyzing this year’s adjusted ratings data from around the world, as well as major tournaments, to determine if a change is needed at all.
Carrier Removal in Heart of the Swarm
Nothing we shared at BlizzCon is final, and the carrier itself is coming and going in our internal builds. The biggest problem we still have with the carrier is that we can’t identify a meaningful role for the unit. It fills a similar niche as the colossus in terms of the tech level and role it provides. Both are siege range units, but the colossus is splash damage, is a lot faster in coming into play, is less of a risk to bring out, and because of how common colossi are in protoss games, counter units such as corruptors or vikings are already available, making carriers even less viable.
We could just do a straight numbers buff on the carrier, but we don’t really think that’ll change too much for the reasons mentioned above. Therefore, we believe the best way to solve this issue is to either change the design of the carrier after locating a viable end game role for the unit or to just bring in a completely new unit that will actually be useful in the late game by removing the carrier. With that said, we are definitely looking into the concerns the community has expressed regarding the potential carrier removal in Heart of the Swarm. In the meantime, we’ll follow your discussions on the topic and we encourage you to continue providing feedback about the carrier’s place in the protoss lineup.
Terran Can’t Beat Protoss
We don’t think this is an accurate assessment of the matchup because win/loss ratios are swinging both ways. This is especially true at league levels below Masters. That said, we have noticed that terran at lower skill levels are underperforming a bit, especially vs. zerg and somewhat vs. protoss. We suspect that the initial complexity of the terran race may be a contributing factor to this, so internally, we’re experimenting with moving some of the new terran units around to make terran slightly more intuitive to play -- at lower levels only.
Just as an example, one of the things we’re experimenting with is making the battle hellion available from the factory instead of the normal hellion. Much as vikings come from the starport in flight mode, hellions would emerge from the factory as battle hellions by default, and players could then opt to transform them into the faster, but more fragile, normal Hellion. One downside is that higher level players have found this frustrating in certain situations, especially when trying to get the jump on zerg opponents, but our general philosophy is that we’re not afraid of making the game more difficult to master at the highest levels. Of course, this isn’t a final decision, just an example of one idea we’ve tried out.
Ghost EMP is Too Weak
We aren’t seeing an issue with EMP in the game currently. Ghosts remain in heavy use vs. protoss, which makes us think they’re still really powerful for cost. The terran race remains competitive and effective, so we’re not planning any buffs at the moment. Still, we are aware that at lower levels of play, terran isn’t performing as well as they are at the pro level and we’re examining different solutions to deal with that issue.
Forge Fast Expand is Difficult to Stop as Zerg
This is something we discussed at BlizzCon as well. The new units we’re bringing in should allow zerg to play more aggressively versus players who are defending heavily with little intention of attacking in the early/mid game. For now, we believe this isn’t a game breaking issue because overall, zerg is performing well against protoss. In fact, zerg is not struggling at any level of play, and their win ratio compared to skill is extremely solid at every skill level.
Nydus Worm is Too Inconsistent -- Make It More Like the Overlord Transport
We’d like to see nydus worms used more often, and we’re contemplating some changes to achieve that goal. The idea for the nydus was for it to have greater rewards while being more difficult to pull off versus overlord drops. So, in that light, nydus worms being less consistent than overlord transport is intended. We still want to preserve that risk vs. reward ratio, and the zerg already have the overlord transport and they don’t need another identical or very similar method of transporting units. Thank you for this suggestion, and we will discuss ways we can have nydus see more play without changing the design of the unit.
StarCraft II wouldn’t be what it is without the avid participation of Blizzard gamers all over the globe. Thanks for sharing your opinions on the StarCraft II forums and community sites. We'll keep reading your comments and concerns as we continue to work on making StarCraft II the best game possible. We also look forward to sharing more about Heart of the Swarm and the exciting changes it will bring in the future.