We’ve just published a custom version of Akilon Wastes, "Akilon Wastes (2.0.7 Balance v1.0)," in which we’re testing small balance changes to StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Our plan is to first consider these, and then potentially test additional changes. Here’s the situation:
Spore Crawler damage increased from 15 +15 vs. biological to 15 +30 vs. biological
As mentioned previously, we would first like to try a change for ZvZ that doesn’t affect the other matchups. The overall balance for Heart of the Swarm is in a good place right now, and we’d like to avoid altering too much while addressing the issue with Zerglings and Mutalisks being a bit too dominant in the Zerg mirror matchup.
With this change, we’re trying to strike a balance between encouraging a variety of strategies while keeping Mutalisk-based play viable. The increase to Spore Crawler damage will highly discourage players from using small packs of Mutalisks to attack a location where one or more Spore Crawlers are present. We feel this change will help bring peace of mind to Zerg players who attempt ground-based strategies since they won’t have to worry about Mutalisk harass early on. Furthermore, players who opt for ground units should now have time to build enough Spore Crawlers and other anti-air units that they can comfortably take a third or fourth base on most maps.
We consider this to be the most important balance change in this version of the test map, and we would like everyone to really focus on Zerg vs. Zerg during their playtesting so that we can iterate on a fix for the matchup in subsequent balance maps if necessary.
Burrow research cost decreased from 100/100 to 50/50
When we originally moved the Burrow upgrade down to tier 1, our initial goal was to expand the aggressive options for Zerg in the early game. We saw some early Burrow play in the first HotS tournaments, but almost never see it being utilized anymore. We feel that there’s a decent amount of potential in this area for players and spectators alike, and want to try a buff that encourages more aggressive tactics for Zerg players at Hatchery tech.
We don’t feel that Zerg is at a disadvantage in any way during the early game, and we agree that a cost reduction to Burrow is not a must-have change. We’re just trying out the Burrow research buff for now in hopes of seeing more diverse play. If necessary, we’d like to try a few versions of the buff in order to achieve this goal. If it turns out that Burrow at tier 1 simply doesn’t accomplish what we’d like, we’re fine moving forward without implementing this change.
Oracle movement speed increased from 3.375 to 4
Oracle acceleration increased from 2 to 3
Of all the changes we proposed last week, the Oracle speed increase seemed to receive the most diverse feedback. We’d like to take this opportunity to address a few of the concerns that we’re seeing from players at the highest level:
We’re already seeing proxy Stargate openers, and we’ll see these tactics more frequently with this change.
- In general, we’re not seeing proxy Oracles ending games, nor giving huge advantages to Protoss players. We feel that proxy strategies or hidden tech strategies are fun to watch, and we don’t think this change will have a negative impact on the game—even if players have to scout for proxy Stargates a bit more carefully.
Oracle all-ins are really strong and a speed increase will make these strategies even stronger.
- Oracle all-ins are usually backed up by other units. If we increased Oracle health or damage, the all-in would be stronger, but a movement speed increase doesn’t buff a one-time all-in attack.
Oracles will be near impossible to counter with ground units if the Protoss player micros perfectly.
- This actually sounds pretty cool and helps differentiate the Oracle from other harass units in the game.
- Oracles can also be one of the easiest harass units to deal with, depending on how you choose to fend them off. All you really need to do is place static defense in the center of your mineral line and an Oracle will be unable to deal too much economic damage there.
- We also feel that the Oracle becomes increasingly interesting as a unit in situations where it is constantly threatening to pick off small groups of workers, scout bases, or track army movements with Revelation. That said, a Viking or a few Mutalisks are all it really takes to shut down Oracles in these situations.
Overall, we feel these changes will help the Oracle become more core to the game, and give players a lot more to analyze during games in which Protoss players make use of Oracles. Our hope for the Oracle is that it will be a unit that greatly rewards players who micro really well.
Thank you for your continued feedback and support. We kindly ask that you take your time to play plenty of games on the balance test map before offering your thoughts on the changes above. We’ve already reviewed your previous feedback on the proposed changes, and at this point we’re only looking for actual gameplay feedback so that we can determine whether or not we’ll need another test map.
We’d like to restate that none of the changes we addressed today are final, and feedback based on playtesting is the most helpful information you can share with us now. Once you feel you’ve had enough time to test each change thoroughly, we welcome you to join us in this discussion thread.