Thoughts on Swarm Host – May 6

General Discussion
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We wanted to share our thoughts and start a discussion about the Swarm Host because, like many of you, we were watching along on Saturday during Lone Star Clash 3 where there was an abnormally long ZvZ stalemate game. The potential for such with Swarm Hosts has been a consistent topic of conversation, and I assure you we’ve heard what you had to say about it. We don’t feel this type of play is healthy for the game or exciting for spectators.

Over the last few months, we’ve been internally playtesting a variety of design changes to the Swarm Host. We’ve come to believe that, in the long term, a change to overall Swarm Host design could be a good thing, but in the short term, we’d prefer to not disrupt the interesting non-stalemate Swarm Host play we currently see. Therefore, we don’t believe in removing the unit or completely redesigning it at this time. Drastic changes to the way the Swarm Host currently works could affect the game negatively, as the unit plays a key role in various matchups.

We’ve also regularly seen feedback from players who want fewer balance changes and more time for strategies to adapt to playstyles like this one. We definitely respect that opinion, but with issues like this, we do more than just listen.

Here are the main thoughts we’re working from:
1. Of course, we don't want there to ever be 1+ hour long games that are nothing except Locusts vs. Locusts.

2. We’ve only seen this a handful of times at the highest level of play.

3. As we look down the ladder, we don’t see a significant percentage of games that last more than 25 minutes, especially in the leagues below Master.

4. This playstyle is clearly not a requirement in ZvZ, and that raises questions:
    1. How much do we risk negatively impacting Zerg styles and strategies (that are also fun and entertaining to watch)?
    2. Are we seeing any shift (even a very slow shift) in how players answer this playstyle?
    3. How do potential changes to the unit play out?


5. Because ZvZ is a mirror matchup, it doesn’t impact balance. That means we can target any changes we might make the way we did with the Spore Crawler vs. Mutalisks.

At this point, we’re taking public our discussion about finding the best adjustments that address the issue without affecting the ZvP and ZvT matchups in negative ways.

We’re thinking along these lines:
- Revert spore buff and buff hydralisk anti-air vs. biological units only.
    o With this, even if Broodlords are Abducted by Vipers, they would still be great against base Defenses.
    o The Mutalisk strength in ZvZ could possibly be countered a bit better by Hydralisks.
    o The effect on ZvZ would be acceptable, and the potential effects on ZvP and ZvT are minor.

- Change the Viper’s Abduct ability to make massive units immune to it.
    o By making Brood Lords immune to Abduct, we’d solve the stalemate. Late game ZvZ would be mostly about who wins in the air.
    o There are downsides -- Abduct is a really cool ability, and it is something Zerg needs vs. Colossi in PvZ.
    o To address that, we’d consider a potential buff to Blinding Cloud so that Vipers would still be a valuable utility unit in the ZvP matchup.

As always, please remember that what we’re doing here is talking -- not yet playing publicly on a balance test map. We’d really love to hear and evaluate your thoughts on these and other changes before taking further steps. Please try to keep in mind that Swarm Hosts are needed in other places in the game (such as vs. Mech), so we don’t have an option to just remove the unit.

Thank you very much, and we’re be looking forward to your feedback.
You can't change Abduct to make Colossi immune I don't think, or else it'd be nearly pointless in PvZ.

You could make Massive Air immune to Abduct, so Carriers/BCs/Tempest/Mothership/BroodLords would be immune, but not sure that's a good route either because Abduct is needed to counter SkyToss.

Making Hydralisks better vs Mutalisks would be better IMO...but what do I know about ZvZ.

Stephano...gonna get the SwarmHost changed or die trying!!

EDIT: What if you make Biological Massive immune to abduct...too much of a bandaid?
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
Revert spore buff and buff hydralisk anti-air vs. biological units only.


This is a much better fix than the spore colony fix you did months earlier. I definitely think this is worth testing :D

05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
Change the Viper’s Abduct ability to make massive units immune to it.


This may fix ZvZ but would definitely cause problems in other matchups. I'd vote no on this.
The second, along with a range increase for blinding cloud would be pretty awesome.

Then again, I love the first too.

Either is fine, but I'm not sure how the first addresses anything other than the air war in ZvZ (rather than the obvious ground war that the SH dominates...).
If the problem is with Swarm Hosts though... why don't we just change Swarm Hosts?
05/06/2014 10:10 AMPosted by Protostitute
You can't change Abduct to make Colossi immune I don't think, or else it'd be nearly pointless in PvZ.

You could make Massive Air immune to Abduct, so Carriers/BCs/Tempest/Mothership/BroodLords would be immune, but not sure that's a good route either because Abduct is needed to counter SkyToss.

Making Hydralisks better vs Mutalisks would be better IMO...but what do I know about ZvZ.

Stephano...gonna get the SwarmHost changed or die trying!!

EDIT: What if you make Biological Massive immune to abduct...too much of a bandaid?
At this point, I think the game already has too many "bandaid fixes" :P. I'm glad Blizzard responded to us about Swarm Hosts.
05/06/2014 10:17 AMPosted by Protostitute
If the problem is with Swarm Hosts though... why don't we just change Swarm Hosts?
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
Drastic changes to the way the Swarm Host currently works could affect the game negatively, as the unit plays a key role in various matchups.
05/06/2014 10:19 AMPosted by KillerofGods
05/06/2014 10:17 AMPosted by Protostitute
If the problem is with Swarm Hosts though... why don't we just change Swarm Hosts?
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
Drastic changes to the way the Swarm Host currently works could affect the game negatively, as the unit plays a key role in various matchups.


Changing the Viper is the same thing though... so the only real option is the Hydralisk.
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
- Revert spore buff and buff hydralisk anti-air vs. biological units only.

o With this, even if Broodlords are Abducted by Vipers, they would still be great against base Defenses.
o The Mutalisk strength in ZvZ could possibly be countered a bit better by Hydralisks.
o The effect on ZvZ would be acceptable, and the potential effects on ZvP and ZvT are minor.


I really like this change. It would allow hydras to be more of a focus instead of the muta on muta battles we see now. I don't understand how it would affect ZvP or ZvT at all. They don't have biological fliers last I checked. Unless you mean to buff them vs all bio units, which would be nice since that would open up zerg to go roach/hydra vs terran instead of ling/bling/muta every single game.

05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
- Change the Viper’s Abduct ability to make massive units immune to it.

o By making Brood Lords immune to Abduct, we’d solve the stalemate. Late game ZvZ would be mostly about who wins in the air.
o There are downsides -- Abduct is a really cool ability, and it is something Zerg needs vs. Colossi in PvZ.
o To address that, we’d consider a potential buff to Blinding Cloud so that Vipers would still be a valuable utility unit in the ZvP matchup.


I really don't like this. The single good reason to get a viper is to abduct collosi, brood lords, and thors. If this change goes through, viper will be entirely useless except against tanks. The buff to blinding cloud would have to be huge and would greatly impact the meta game.
http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/12675158800?page=1#18

Hey, for those that are interested there is an ongoing thread about swarmhost changes. Not redesign changes, but balance changes, to discourage their usage.
05/06/2014 10:17 AMPosted by Protostitute
If the problem is with Swarm Hosts though... why don't we just change Swarm Hosts?


Because they're needed for other matchups? Swarm hosts are fine, except when you need to counter them with more swarm hosts.
Imo, more hydralisks and mutalisks, less spore crawlers = fun
05/06/2014 10:22 AMPosted by Hansome

I really don't like this. The single good reason to get a viper is to abduct collosi, brood lords, and thors. If this change goes through, viper will be entirely useless except against tanks. The buff to blinding cloud would have to be huge and would greatly impact the meta game.


What if the BroodLord was simply immune to spells? I mean really...what spells are casted on the BroodLord anyways?
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
- Revert spore buff and buff hydralisk anti-air vs. biological units only.


My mind is blown. A revert. Which is completely needed in my opinion. I would rather see some serious unit vs. unit play in ZvZ rather than static defense playing a pivotal role.

EDIT

I feel a better approach would be to buff the Hydralisk range against air. It still translates as more damage to the given air unit, however, you don't have ridiculous damage output like the spore in ONLY ZvZ and it allows for better Anti Air options against things such as SkyTerran, which murders Zerg currently.
05/06/2014 10:24 AMPosted by Protostitute
05/06/2014 10:22 AMPosted by Hansome

I really don't like this. The single good reason to get a viper is to abduct collosi, brood lords, and thors. If this change goes through, viper will be entirely useless except against tanks. The buff to blinding cloud would have to be huge and would greatly impact the meta game.


What if the BroodLord was simply immune to spells? I mean really...what spells are casted on the BroodLord anyways?


Storm, I saw Jaedong take some storms and then 3 tempests 1 shot'd each brood lord, one at a time...

Buff brood lords? Because redesigning abduct to not get massive units would be so sad.... it's a huge nerf to the viper.
05/06/2014 10:24 AMPosted by Protostitute
What if the BroodLord was simply immune to spells? I mean really...what spells are casted on the BroodLord anyways?


I think that would be a good fix but wouldn't terran freak out because they can't be sniped anymore? I know most terrans dont make ghosts, but the ones that do might not like this.
05/06/2014 10:06 AMPosted by Dayvie
- Change the Viper’s Abduct ability to make massive units immune to it.
o By making Brood Lords immune to Abduct, we’d solve the stalemate. Late game ZvZ would be mostly about who wins in the air.
o There are downsides -- Abduct is a really cool ability, and it is something Zerg needs vs. Colossi in PvZ.
o To address that, we’d consider a potential buff to Blinding Cloud so that Vipers would still be a valuable utility unit in the ZvP matchup.
100/200 can't abduct massive units what shall Zerg abduct, Marines? And a spell where Protoss just can easily walk out off, FailFish
I think both the spore + hydra change & the viper change sound great. I would love to see these changes implemented.

I still think the swarm host itself needs a change in some form. Not only are the boring to use/watch they are also boring to play against and very strong.

If there was a way to make them weaker vs zerg & protoss without making them weaker vs Terran that would be great. I have never had problems vs swarmhosts as terran but as Protoss they make me want to uninstal the game.
WHAT!?!?! What do you use abduct for if not for abducting massive units???? What am I gonna abduct tanks and immortals?? Hell NO. Forcing zerg to go roach hydra corruptor instead of viper is like an incredible nerf the likes of I haven't seen in a long time. Vipers are rarely made solely for blinding cloud. There are no non massive units worth making vipers to abduct in the game. Your solution to solving Swarm Hosts is to delete vipers from the game??? Ok no one who made this decision remotely even plays zerg I believe that now. I'm so angry right now that I don't even remember everything else I just read.
I'm glad the balance team is thinking of solutions to this sort of laborious gameplay. I like the first one better. The second would create problems in ZvP. Tempests should be vulnerable to Abduct, imo.

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