We’re pleased to bring you the latest StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty situation report. In this edition, we'll be discussing some of the most notable changes in patch 1.4.3 and shed some light on the design philosophy behind this update.
MULEs now harvest the same amount of minerals on both high yield minerals and normal minerals.
We’ve been looking into the effects that high yield expansions have on gameplay, in particular how the added efficiency of MULEs on these mineral patches can affect matchups. This is also a common piece of feedback we’ve received from both pro players and the community.
We’ve been closely monitoring several sources of information: GSL tournaments which feature maps that do not have high yield mineral patches at all, major tournaments that still use high yield expansions, and our own ladder maps data now that our 1v1 ladder features a tournament-like map pool.
Based on these observations, we’ve made the decision to keep MULE resource generation the same regardless of mineral type, while allowing high yield mineral patches to remain on our ladder maps. This change helps keep the risk vs. reward the same for all three races when acquiring expansions that feature high yield minerals.
Snipe damage changed from 45 to 25 +25 Psionic
We felt the Snipe ability was countering zerg broodlords and ultralisks slightly too well. Especially at the pro level, we were seeing a lot of games where terran players were playing very defensive games while massing ghosts to counter most of the options zerg players had at their disposal.
While we like to see creative and innovative use of units, we felt that in this case Snipe was becoming too effective against zerg’s most expensive units. When adjusting the ability, we tried to settle on a number that would allow using Snipe to remain a viable tactic, though not as powerful as it is now. With this change, brood lords will fall in ten casts of Snipe rather than six (taking into account health regeneration), while an ultralisk will die in 21 casts, up from 11. This also significantly increases the number of ghosts and stockpiled energy needed to pull this tactic off, which we feel confident about because, previously, terran players rarely needed to consider the energy on their ghosts units.
Phoenix now has a range upgrade at the Fleet Beacon
In the past, we’ve discussed whether protoss needed a more immediate change to give them additional ways of dealing with mutalisks in PvZ, or whether it was more appropriate to make changes to that matchup in Heart of the Swarm. After investigating, testing, and reviewing both community and pro feedback, we’ve decided to include a change in this patch.
The phoenix will now have 6 attack range after purchasing an upgrade, which should allow them to more easily deal with a large number of mutalisks. In the previous patch, when protoss players attempted to move their armies out across the map, their bases became extremely vulnerable. Existing options to cope with massed mutalisks were costly and not always effective. This range upgrade should help even the odds by giving protoss players the option to reactively build phoenixes in smaller numbers, and with some micro, allow them to more efficiently defend against mutalisk swarms. Upgraded phoenixes should also offer protoss players the potential for better map control in the PvZ match up.
Still, we also wanted to make sure that producing mutalisks in PvZ remains a viable strategy, and believe that it is. While it might not be a good idea to brute force a protoss opponent with a ton of mutalisks, pairing them with units such as infestors and/or corruptors will help counter the advantage the new range upgrade provides.
APM / CPM changes
There was a lot of concern and debate regarding whether APM should be an accurate number or it should be a fun, play style distinguishing factor like it has been traditionally. After hearing a lot of feedback from both sides, we decided to bring back classic APM, which will track all actions issued by the player. Meanwhile, EPM (effective actions per minute) will continue to track actual commands as it did prior to patch 1.4.3.
This way, pro players who want to show off how fast their hands move can do so with APM, while at the same time players who really just want to know how accurate and efficient their actions are can look at EPM.
As always, we will continue to follow player discussions on our forums as well as fan sites and beyond, and we look forward to your constructive feedback regarding these changes. As with all balance-related changes, we've made these decisions with great care and consideration to ensure a great playing experience for players of all skill levels.
* David Kim is a game designer for StarCraft II and he’s a big fan of community map contest maps.