HotS Balance Thoughts - April 17

General Discussion
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Analyzing the effects of the last Swarm Host patch is one of our top priorities for Heart of the Swarm right now, so we wanted to share some more thoughts in this area to get more input from you.

Currently we’re not seeing much new Swarm Host usage. We see two potential reasons for this: The Swarm Host isn’t effective enough in its current state or players haven’t figured out the best use cases with them yet. The answer is probably a mix of both factors, and we’re hoping to see more Zerg games in all matchups in order to drill down on the correct course of action here.

Our main focus point in the immediate future will be on the state of ZvP and ZvT after these changes. The main thing we’d like to watch out for first is that the two matchups are working well and are balanced. In order to get there, we have two options that we’d like to discuss with everyone.

Option 1
Take our normal approach of waiting until we can locate what the specific issues are and then act accordingly. The up side of this is that we can make the correct decisions and give players enough time to really drill down to the details of what the last patch has changed about the game. The down side is that it’ll take time.

Option 2

Act a bit quicker as an exception this time, because we made such drastic changes at a point when the balance was looking very solid. From the initial feedback and games that we’ve seen, Zerg seem slightly weaker than before. While we don’t have enough examples or the time to make this conclusion, we wonder if acting a bit sooner in this specific case might be better for the game. To be clear, this doesn’t mean we’ll just go in and patch right away. We’ll still go through the standard procedures of discussing potential changes, testing the changes on balance test maps, and iterating on them until we find good changes. The main difference is that we would be going into the first balance test map much sooner than we normally would have after a balance patch.

If we go with option 1, we’ll first need to figure out how the changes affected the matchups, so we don’t have any proposed potential changes yet. If we go with option 2, our main goal would be to work on a change that would help Zerg slightly vs. Protoss and vs. Mech play. Going more into the specifics:

Roach burrow move speed increase
We know Roaches serve a critical role in both vs. Protoss and Mech, so this might be a good area to buff. We’ve also tested a faster burrow-move speed version of the Roach in the past, and saw some good results. In terms of testing time, and being able to gauge the effectiveness of this change, it should be much quicker since it’ll be the second time testing this out. This could be a very simple change that will help Zerg out in the two main areas that we’re potentially looking to improve.

Swarm Host changes
We believe that the cost investment both in terms of gas and supply are quite high. And it’s like that for a reason: we don’t want mass Swarm Hosts to be viable. But we wonder if we can make some tweaks to make the harassment case less of a commitment while also making sure the mass Swarm Host case isn’t viable. While we don’t have specifics here, we’re initially thinking:

- Buff the Swarm Host effectiveness
- Reduce the supply cost/take another look at the cost of the unit itself
- Increase the cooldown of the Spawn Locust ability even more

These changes will support the small group harassment role of the unit much better, while nerfing the mass Swarm Host case even more.

To reiterate, we’re not saying that there’s a clear problem that we see right now. We don’t know with 100% certainty on the state of things since the last patch, but we’re mainly just wondering if there’s value in starting a balance test map sooner than later this time.

Thank you so much, and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.
Roach Burrow change will be interesting in ZvP but won't do much in ZvMech especially if the Terran is turtling and has most likely built Missile Turrets. It's not likely you can maneuver much if you go into the Terran's base anyway.
A lot of people brought up that the swoop ability is a buff and a nerf because the locusts get shot at by AA before they land since they spawn in the air first. I think giving the zerg player the choice to spawn them in the air or spawn them on the ground could help.
Expect a ton of flak, but acting too soon, without time to judge, going only off of the forums rather than actual games, is worse than taking a month or so and seeing how win rates go.
Have you tried giving SH energy like infestors etc? Go back to the old costs so they can still be massed but balance via the energy cap/cost of locust. This way you can still have engagements where you pump a few locusts out, but it is not a viable option to solely rely on them for your army composition.
I feel Blizzard has to make a change on this sooner rather than later, but it is up to us as a community to test this with the thoroughness that Blizzard needs to make an educated decision. I, for one, will be more than happy to devote my time / games to whatever they decide, because right now zerg is in a pretty funky spot BECAUSE we didn't give them enough data to extrapolate from.
Nerf the locus dps a little bit and make the swarm host 3 supply.
Dude zerg doesn't need more harass options. We need ways to deal with late game mech and protoss. revert the sh to how it was before. It's like the Brood lord was in WOL we need it. "Increase the cooldown even more" are you serious?" that is ridiculous. Why can they not see that there is no way to really "fix sh" with out addressing things like colossi, void rays, tanks, and even economy. They hit it on the head on remax and late game. Zerg gets no advantage really from mass expanding so trading things like roaches against someone who locks 3 bases down isn;t good. So we need the sh put pressure on them and try and chip away. Swarm hosts are not the issue the issue is that zerg cannot compete efficiently with late game armies.
Option 2. Please, please Option 2.
the sonner it will be fixed the better it will be .Remove free unit from this game it s bad it s too good.
Actualy they are way too fast to be killed cant catch them
they are like usain bolt off creep
Option 3: Cure mech instead, this is where the cancer is located.
Thank you for at least announcing that you see the community has issues with what is happening. This approach of "We have seen that there is a community that exists" is new!

On the other hand, this is the first time and hopefully it continues. I like knowing what the people in charge of the game I love are doing.

Going back to LotV, I don't care what happens in HotS right now >.>
I think the key issue in the games I've been playing is having a really hard time breaking down a hard turtled mech opponent. While these are only plat/diamond games, I've seen this frustrations mirrored in higher level play too so I'm thinking it is one of the core issues if it has spilled down to my level of play.

It is a really difficult issue game design wise because Zerg units are still inherently functioning the way they're supposed to - cheap, expendable and swarming - however the Terran units in HotS were designed around the idea that the Locusts could be a Lair tech option used to pressure turtled opponents into action. I don't believe changes to the new Swarm Host are necessarily the key to fixing this issue either lest we return to a similar gameplay style that this change was targeted to fix. I think you can sort of side-buff them or alter their stats slightly (not even a buff, just an alteration) to help them fit their new role of a pack of roaming skirmishers but I don't think we should be looking at them solely as a way to fix this new issue.

Now - with that preamble out of the way, I think we look at the current state of ZvT(Mech) and see that the core issue is that turtling phase. Terran can sit on three bases behind a wall of Tanks, Mines and Hellbats with good turret placement, build up an unstoppable 2/2 or 3/3 mech force and just walk out and kill the Zerg no matter what composition is on the map. This can be augmented by Banshees and Thors and even some drops by the more ambitious Terran folk. I think something needs to be done about the effectiveness of that Terran wall against a midgame Zerg army because it just cannot be broken and oddly, I think Missile Turrets and Thors are the biggest problem right now which is why my suggestion is as follows:

Bring down Turret damage SLIGHTLY and lower repair rates from SCV by ~20%. This opens up a lot of counterplay options for Mutalisks both versus Thors and Turrets without necessarily effecting other matchups or other styles too hard.

I honestly think we need to look to the Mutalisk as the unsung hero of shredding Mech. It rewards fast hands, and asks the same amount of planning and micro from both sides. It punishes a Mech player who doesn't prepare properly and rewards the Zerg player who can identify it early and play well against it. This also will help with late-game Planetary Fortress busts with crackling packs.
Mullets downvoting left and right. Even protoss is harder to play than terran right now.
Return to how they were before, but with current increased supply cost of 4. EZ PZ ;)
Why should be post our thoughts. Everyone did give you their thoughts on the sh patch and it was all negative or more needs to be buffed for zerg or nerfed for the other races. and you didn't listen. Just please start taking these balance changes to pros like catz or incontrol. they live right near you can can tell you exactly the benefits or ramifications to them in a second. And they would have toid you the SH change was bad for the race in hots..
What can make lategame hard for zerg is that the opponents can build quite cheap or powerful walls consisting of buildings around their 4th and 5th bases to artificially choke the area up a lot. For example gateway walls, Planetary Fortresses, Orbital Command Centers, Pylons and of course static defenses like turrets and canons.
In particular in conjunction with siege tanks, vikings or tempests and longrange spellcasters like Templar or Ravens this is nearly impossible to engage into as a zerg, because zerg has few units that have sufficient range to take down those walls to make room for their lowrange armies.

I think an interesting change could be if the Ultralisk Ram Attack against buildings was brought back in a strong version, to give zerg a more efficient tool to deal with such walls in the later stages of the game. This wouldn't interact a lot with other strategies besides late- and endgame turtling of Terrans or Protoss players and could therefore be exactly what you are looking for.

Option 1
Take our normal approach [...]
Option 2 [/b]
Act a bit quicker as an exception this time[...]

Hi Dayvie,

I created the account on AM to post this.
Please be aware that the SH had it's place in both matchups (ZvP, ZvT).
And to see the effect of the changes you need to check if:
- SH are now built more/less
- when they are built, what is the game flow and who wins the game eventually
- it would be good if you could isolate late game v P and late game vs T mech data and compare those pre/post patch.

Personally I don't use SH at all. Which means 90% lose rate agaist mech (except going muta/base trade), and a lot of problems against protoss deathballs.

This is one of the problems with the unit. People didn't like it, and they like it even less now.

But whatever you guys do, please sit down and read this on wiki:

Give the Five Thinking Tools a try.

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