Update on HotS Balance - December 3

General Discussion
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Hello everyone,

We’ve been assessing the state of Heart of the Swarm balance recently, and while our data shows that balance at lower skill levels is quite even, we’ve noted some concerns at the highest levels of play. We’re seeing that Terran looks slightly stronger than the other two races, and Zerg is underperforming slightly in both matchups.

As suggested by pro players and members of the community, we feel the map pool in Season 3 contributed a lot to these racial differences and we’re going to be making changes next season to help with this. Our goal for the upcoming season is to have a good mix of maps that are balanced as well as some that slightly favor specific races. We’re currently working towards finalizing the 2015 Season 1 map pool and we’re hoping that we can update to the new ladder map pool later this month.

Additionally, we’ve been considering potential balance changes to help address these issues. One area we’ve been keeping close tabs on that we believe we can help improve balance is the strength of the Widow Mine in TvP. We believe the direction of our last balance update was correct, but we wonder if the actual numbers were slightly too much. We’re currently thinking of testing the following change on a balance test map:

Widow mine splash damage decreased from 40 +40 shields to 40 +20 shields.

This will change a few key unit relationships such as Zealots requiring three shots to die from Widow Mine splash damage to four shots and Sentries/Templars would go from one shot to two shots.

We’re currently in the off-season, so we have time to fully test out changes to the game, but we first wanted to hear your thoughts before committing to a balance test map.

Thank you.
Seems trivial. I'm sure some terrans would like to prove me wrong?
This sounds pretty good. Maps are a huge factor in balance and a diverse map pool would work wonders.
Hello everyone, We’re seeing that Terran looks slightly stronger than the other two races, and Zerg is underperforming slightly in both matchups.

So you decide to nerf the WM in a way that it doesn't affect TvZ? Hmm... #logic?
But I agree that the maps play a huge role, they are simply bad.

But otherwise this is a MUST change, the shield damage is too high imho.

PS: I would really love you guys made something to hydras finally. Something that would be noteworthy.
Widowmine is a luck unit, when your 150+ supply NO ONE ( maybe one ) has the time to control mines, put them in separate hotkeys or twitch clicking them. Stop changing the widow mine damage, how about make it less luck?

Here is some ideas:

1. Lessen range to ~200, but decrease target time to almost nothing.

2. Increase range, but only target when told to fire and require no lock on time.

Both direction of change will make it more skill / apm / twitch based and less luck.

This is a needed change IMO as a random player. But for real wheres the zerg love !!! ..... Ill go back to my corner and play with my queen
I'm so glad you guys are still giving some attention to HoTS even though you must be quite busy with LotV! About your suggested change, I would just like to say that I've always thought it was kind of inelegant to have a unit do bonus damage versus shields. That's basically "bonus damage versus Protoss."

The original widow mine in early HoTS was a powerful unit in TvP even though it had zero bonus damage against shields. The bonus damage was only added after the original widow mine from early HoTS was nerfed for TvZ reasons. That had the unintended consequence of making the unit less valuable in TvP. So you guys gave it bonus damage versus shields so that it would still be a useful unit in all match ups. However, now that you have recently buffed the Widow Mine's base damage and area of effect back to early HoTS levels, the bonus damage versus shields is both unnecessary and potentially overpowered in the TvP matchup. IMO, it would be a good thing to at least consider testing the Widow Mine with no bonus damage versus shields. It would still punish things like no detection blink openings or blindly a-moving zealots. The base damage is quite high on its own, and the area of effect is larger than the area of effect for storm.
Maps are good call, enough to balance both matchups imo.
Slight damage reduction vs shields feels ok, but balancing PvT seems like walking on thin ice.
Yeah, almost feels like taking maps that were known to already have balance-issues by themselves and putting them into an expansion that they weren't even made for was a bad idea. ;)
I do not understand how you can not be addressing the carrier build time numbers or something to improve PVZ. It´s a mistake to think TVP is as terran favored as you think and +20 damage to shields might not solve the issues people hallucinate. TVP is a fine matchup really and widow mine splash damage is not really the issue, because templar zealot openings will still face the same challenge as colossus stalker openings. Regardless, widow mine nerf is not what fixed the current problems which is that protosses seem to go blink aggressive vs terran and otherwise seem to no perform with defensive styles.

ZVP swarmhost styles really needs attention, you can´t possibly suggest with a balance patch intended to not address the fact that protoss is forced to go allinsa every game versus zerg just to avoid playing this style. Overexaggeration improves the point, but the stats are real and so is the logic. I do not see why mothership abduct immunity is a problem or a carrier build time reduction when these things are just additions to protoss lategame rather than buff and shouldn´t have any major impact as long as it´s done correctly.

I think 3 to 4 shot on zealot doesn´t make a huge difference really, but the 1 to 2 shot on templar + sentries is a big deal and will definitely mean much less punishment to protoss when walking across mines without detection nearby. I think +20 splash damage on widow mines is a good change but no more nerfs should be done to the unit than that since otherwise the gameplay koreans intend to play would stagnate and protoss will be favored in allin situations again.

Zerg versus protoss has gimmicks from both protoss allin sides and zerg macro sides. To address this as simply as possible, we really need to improve protoss abilities to play macro games without just allowing them to turtle. Nobody blindly turtles to carriers and tempests and mothership without zerg going for some specific style such as utralisks og swarmhosts. Especially swarmhosts is troubling for protoss and there is already very much evidence supporting this. A mohtership abduct immunity buff is really necessary to improve this matchup since the freespace style macro is almost giving zerg too big of an advantage to lose even the opponent plays the strongest possible game.

This is why we see so much prism harass and allins from protoss as well as some air style harass openings which is fine, but unless they are committed to an allin or the zerg makes a huge defensive mistake it´s simply automatically a matchup that spiral out of control favoring zerg. I am sure David/blizzard if you check the highest level ZVP winratios, especially on europe, you will see how much advantage zergs get from playing an intelligent swarmhost style.

Since this is not seen as much in korea is simply because this style is not necesary for zergs to win, korean zergs can still prefer mechanical strategies and skills to win in PVZ which is something europeans might not favor, instead favoring queen/swarmhost heavy openings that should be extremely difficult to stop if both sides makes a strong game.

Rather than addressing these concerns solely based on results in tournaments and perhaps on ladder, it´s important to look at the possibilities of each race in-game to determine the current state of balance, and it´s obvious to the keen eye that TVP is actually in a decent state while PVZ and TVZ are not. terran has an advantage in TVZ and zerg has an advantage in PVZ:
IMHO, i think the mine is a bit too powerful. But people use them a lot because its the only thing good vs toss. Nerf mine, but buff other units to do more shield damage. Hint: tank, thor
Sorry David Kim, Terran does not need another random nerf. Terrans are doing well because the majority of Protosses playing them are doing random things like proxying oracles in corners of the map or immortal all-ins...and Terrans are holding them off.

I see that you want to nerf Terran again, but where is the oracle speed revert that has severely hampered TvP early game and made it into a luck based match-up?

What about blink stalkers, the build that is basically so strong it can be done every single game on any map with no draw back, and on certain maps is a free win depending on cliffs?

Not at all happy as an SC2 player with the direction that SC2 has taken with the biased development towards repeatedly nerfing Terran while buffing things like warp prism speed and oracle speed and then not tweaking those things when they are shown to be broken over the months.
12/03/2014 10:10 AMPosted by Boo
Seems trivial. I'm sure some terrans would like to prove me wrong?

It can no longer one-shot sentries and HT's, and zealots need four splash hits instead of three. However, the widow mine drops on the mineral line won't be affected. So I think it'll make a difference, but how big, I don't know.

Raver brought this suggestion up a while ago and even tested it on his mod. I remember not liking the idea when I did the math but I was wrong. :-)
It seems a bit weird that you single Zerg out as having trouble in both matchups, then suggest a mine nerf that only affects TvP.

I like the change for TvP, as it is needed, but the inconsistency with Zerg seems strange.
I think Hydras should also be looked at. Something like +damage to bio, along with a damage reduction to spore bio damage. So that way Hydras are more effective against Terrans (though they still won't get used), and it will give incentive to not make as many Roaches in ZvZ. Perhaps even make Muta strategies a little more viable.

Also please lower the cost of Contaminate. 125 is too much. Or if you are unwilling to do that increase starting energy on the overseer. Because deep down we all really, really want Destiny's D.E.R.P. build to be a thing.

I highly approve of this, Protoss would be able to do something other than open colossus ALL THE TIME and it would force Terrans to think again, what build is Protoss going to pick? Is he tech-switching? :)
1 shot on sentries and templars was completly absurd. I think this change will now make templar openers equally as viable as colossus openers. Also this will make immortal/sentry busts at the ramp stronger now. I like this change a lot. It's boring for protoss to either have to cheese or open colossus every game.
Not Bad.
I don't think you should make any balance changes affecting TvZ/TvP, even one like this, until it becomes clearly apparent that it would be necessary. Middle/low end pro terran has not yet recovered from last year's off season patch and it's not even known if they will.

That is unless you're ok with terran sitting in the 20s percentage wise in tournament populations and just accepting higher win rates because higher tier terrans more frequently meet lower tier protoss/zerg.
I like the idea, but I honestly wouldn't mind having the shield splash removed all together. After the reversion, I don't think it's really needed. As for TvZ, A minor reversion of the hellbat upgrade removal. Perhaps make it 50/50 and a shorter research time.

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