Community Update - December 21, 2018

General Discussion
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It’s been a great year for StarCraft II. After the epic BlizzCon finals, we were treated to one of the most exciting HomeStory Cups to date, which showcased the new balance patch just a few days after its release. Congratulations to Serral for winning HSC XVIII and also to Future for his impressive performance at Cheeseadelphia 8! On our end, we’ve been continuing to monitor tournaments and gather feedback from the community forums and pros since the new patch was released. As 2018 comes to a close, we’d like to unpack the feedback we’ve been receiving and share our thoughts on the state of the game.

TvT
As Cyclones now largely resemble their pre-3.8 patch state, TvT early-game has also functionally reverted back to its pre-3.8 patch state. We’re seeing slightly more Reaper proxies compared to the time frame right before 3.8 patch, however. Feedback we’ve received suggests that this may be because players have learned to transition more safely from proxy builds. Or it could be that aggressive builds tend to win out in the early stages after a balance patch and players simply need more time to adapt. Overall, we’ve received reports that early-game TvT has become more varied, and we’re happy with how it’s developing.

ZvZ
We’ve received feedback that Mutalisk-based strategies have become more potent due to a combination of various Zerg changes to the Queen, Roach, Hydralisk, Creep Tumors, and Nydus Networks. We’ll be carefully watching this matchup’s mid-game compositions to see if Mutalisk play becomes too oppressive.

PvP
Because of the Sentry’s Hallucination cost reduction, players are now able to open Stargate and choose their first Stargate unit based on their Hallucination scout. This effectively condenses the pre-4.7.1 Phoenix and Oracle openers into a single catchall Stargate opener. This new opener can diverge into two separate paths, which can cover each other’s weaknesses. As a result, we’re seeing more Stargate openers and Phoenix mirrors than usual.

Thus, we’re considering tweaks to either Hallucination or Stargate units that would add risk to blindly opening Stargate in PvP. We’re also considering changes that would allow players to transition out of Phoenix mirrors in the case of Stargate vs. Stargate openers.

TvZ
TvZ has been the matchup where we’ve seen the most change. We’re glad to see more Widow Mine-based play, which can lead to very back-and-forth, action-packed games. We’ve also been seeing a lot of interesting development in mech compositions with increased use of Cyclones, speed Banshees, and Battlecruisers. This matchup has been consistently evolving and we’re witnessing something new every week.

TvP
In TvP, while we’ve received feedback that Terran proxies are weaker than before, we still see a significant number of proxies in tournament play. Some Protoss players have commented that it can be difficult to discern between the various all-ins and fake all-ins while some Terrans have indicated that proxy play feels like the safest option to secure a low ground expansion against fast Adepts. We’re considering attacking this issue from two angles, both by weakening proxy openers and making macro openers more robust.

With regards to the mid-game, we’ve heard that TvP is slightly easier for Terrans now due to the Disruptor change. As for late-game, we’re keeping a close eye on the strength of Tempests, which we’re getting mixed feedback about. Since one of our overarching goals for the end-of-year patch was to bring more balance to the late-game of all matchups, we’ll keep looking at potential future changes to achieve this, if necessary. At the same time, however—partially because of the prominence of Terran proxies—our sample size of late-game TvP is not as large as we’d like.

ZvP
We’ve received feedback that it’s now easier for Protoss to survive Zerg onslaughts in the mid-game. In the shift to late-game, Zergs have responded positively to Vipers being able to survive Feedback. On the Protoss side, players have been mixing up their late-game compositions and experimenting with new combinations of Void Rays, Carriers, and Tempests. While we feel these are all already positive changes, we’d still like to see more Robotics Bay-level units in Protoss compositions.

Additional Thoughts
Outside of anything matchup-specific, there are a few other units and upgrades that we haven’t seen much of lately, such as Thors, Anabolic Synthesis, and Nydus Networks. Though a few of these may just need more time for players to figure out, we might give them an extra boost in a future patch.

As a whole, we continue to feel that it’s natural for more aggressive strategies to be stronger following a major balance patch because players will need time to explore refined responses to these strategies.

That’s it from us! Now, it’s your turn to let us know your thoughts. But before we leave, we wanted to wish Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year from everyone on the balance team. See you all next year!
12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
With regards to the mid-game, we’ve heard that TvP is slightly easier for Terrans now due to the Disruptor change

Do you have ever play at starcraft 2 ?
TvP is unplayable. Distruptor is our last problem next to overpowered colossus and the difficulties to avoid instalooses in front of an "A Move storm" protoss

Haters will say "Do ghost then" but ghost help to not loose and not to win ...
All pros prefer fake proxy into allin because they're afraid about macro game versus toss
Are you planning to change/redesign/replace somehow Overseer's contaminate? It's basically neosteel frame of Zerg. Used in super-rare cases, low effectiveness and dangerous to be buffed cause Overseers have no unit limit.

Maybe make overseer's contaminate as channeling ability for longer time, which also reduces Overseer's armor by 3 during that channel.

Or make contaminate affect creep tumors somehow, boosting creep spread or letting creep tumors to spawn another creep tumor.

Or just delete this ability, if you want to eliminate everything that is almost never used.
It's really hard to see more robo play in pvz since air units with HTs are so strong and gateway units are so weak.
12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team

TvT
As Cyclones now largely resemble their pre-3.8 patch state, TvT early-game has also functionally reverted back to its pre-3.8 patch state. We’re seeing slightly more Reaper proxies compared to the time frame right before 3.8 patch, however. Feedback we’ve received suggests that this may be because players have learned to transition more safely from proxy builds. Or it could be that aggressive builds tend to win out in the early stages after a balance patch and players simply need more time to adapt. Overall, we’ve received reports that early-game TvT has become more varied, and we’re happy with how it’s developing.

Early game TvT now is much more open since previously it was just dominated by cyclones.

12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
ZvZ
We’ve received feedback that Mutalisk-based strategies have become more potent due to a combination of various Zerg changes to the Queen, Roach, Hydralisk, Creep Tumors, and Nydus Networks. We’ll be carefully watching this matchup’s mid-game compositions to see if Mutalisk play becomes too oppressive.

I would expect the infestor changes to eventually end up coming into play in ZvZ muta scenario's.

12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
PvP
Because of the Sentry’s Hallucination cost reduction, players are now able to open Stargate and choose their first Stargate unit based on their Hallucination scout. This effectively condenses the pre-4.7.1 Phoenix and Oracle openers into a single catchall Stargate opener. This new opener can diverge into two separate paths, which can cover each other’s weaknesses. As a result, we’re seeing more Stargate openers and Phoenix mirrors than usual.
Thus, we’re considering tweaks to either Hallucination or Stargate units that would add risk to blindly opening Stargate in PvP. We’re also considering changes that would allow players to transition out of Phoenix mirrors in the case of Stargate vs. Stargate openers.

Well you are seeing more phoenix play in PvP because of the disruptor, also because stargate openers are very useful against for instance SB or cannon contains. It's not because of hallucination or stargate units itself. The meta has just shifted in PvP.

Balance team do you remember what you did about Muta vs Muta wars in ZvZ with the spore bonus vs bio change?.

You should do something similar with the photon cannon by giving it a secondary AA only attack that does a +10 bonus vs shields.

12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
TvZ
TvZ has been the matchup where we’ve seen the most change. We’re glad to see more Widow Mine-based play, which can lead to very back-and-forth, action-packed games. We’ve also been seeing a lot of interesting development in mech compositions with increased use of Cyclones, speed Banshees, and Battlecruisers. This matchup has been consistently evolving and we’re witnessing something new every week.

TvZ is awesome with how many options and compositions each side can do. Even lurkers are seeing usage because of all the bio-mine play.

But I would suggest putting Tactical Jump behind a 150/150/79s fusion core upgrade to discourage BC rushes.

12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
TvP
In TvP, while we’ve received feedback that Terran proxies are weaker than before, we still see a significant number of proxies in tournament play. Some Protoss players have commented that it can be difficult to discern between the various all-ins and fake all-ins while some Terrans have indicated that proxy play feels like the safest option to secure a low ground expansion against fast Adepts. We’re considering attacking this issue from two angles, both by weakening proxy openers and making macro openers more robust.
With regards to the mid-game, we’ve heard that TvP is slightly easier for Terrans now due to the Disruptor change. As for late-game, we’re keeping a close eye on the strength of Tempests, which we’re getting mixed feedback about. Since one of our overarching goals for the end-of-year patch was to bring more balance to the late-game of all matchups, we’ll keep looking at potential future changes to achieve this, if necessary. At the same time, however—partially because of the prominence of Terran proxies—our sample size of late-game TvP is not as large as we’d like.

Terrans proxy TvP frequently because they feel like late game TvP is extremely hard to fight against directly or trade evenly against.

In the same patch you buffed the BC you also buffed the Tempest, but you also buffed the Tempest in such a way that it can now counter Vikings by kiting them to death or even chasing them down. I know Tempests are supposed to counter BC's but right now it's painfully one sided where the BC's can never get in range to YC them to even the odds.

The new design direction of the Tempest is good, but the speed combined with the longest ATA range in the game ends up breaking TvP late game. Not just because it completely discourages going BC's or going to the late game for that matter but also because of how massively it's impacted the relationship between Tempest and Vikings. It also discourages TvP Mech which is slowly gaining popularity.

12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
ZvP
We’ve received feedback that it’s now easier for Protoss to survive Zerg onslaughts in the mid-game. In the shift to late-game, Zergs have responded positively to Vipers being able to survive Feedback. On the Protoss side, players have been mixing up their late-game compositions and experimenting with new combinations of Void Rays, Carriers, and Tempests. While we feel these are all already positive changes, we’d still like to see more Robotics Bay-level units in Protoss compositions.

PvZ is definitely in a much better spot. Also robo units are still very good in PVZ. Immortals are frequent, colossus are coming back in style and even disruptors are coming into play.
Its hard to go lurkers in zvp because toss has so many hard counters. Lurkers are so expensive and take so long to get. If you want to keep the tech to get them the same time wise then you should make the unit cost less and build faster and to help balance it out reduce their attack range by 1.

Its really boring watching zvp atm since zerg goes for the same army comp most of the time.

I can't remember the last time Ive seen lurkers in pro play zvp.

Who knows what other micro tricks we can see since they are barely used. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NWJUZjWdro

I do remember one time where someone was microing a collo back and forth against a lurker.
Current meta "wisdom" says Terran playing late game vs Protoss is a losing situation. Not that the match up is imbalanced but because the way the races are designed you need to play to different strengths... Thus the current meta is mostly 2 base all-in or proxy. At this point almost every stronger player (higher masters and up) seems to throw in a few proxy builds just for variety in what they do.

Whether the proxies are too strong is impossible for me to say but prevalence probably has more to do with that hive mind belief (true or false) that terran should not play longer macro games vs Protoss.
TvP is slightly easier for Terrans now ???????????? Is this some kind of joke?
12/21/2018 03:29 PMPosted by Destiny
TvP is slightly easier for Terrans now ???????????? Is this some kind of joke?

Sure:
-WM invisibility + buffs of 2018
-BC 10-20% buff in DPS (though original DPS was insane for a unit with Nexus HP)
-Disruptor nerffed 50% vs Terrans
-Carrier made lame unit just for parade....
-HP Nerffed 50% the FB
- Recall buffed 20% the CD and nerffed 800% the Recalling Area.
-SB nerffed 20-25%

If each terran in ladder won't advance 300-500 MMR points then they have to undergo an examination for issues.

P.S. My God the Moron-Team even nerffed the assimilator HP.........
[EDIT: Updated with more feedback]

Hi! I just wanted to leave some specific feedback around the Thor and various changes that would be actually beneficial for it, specially regarding the micro department and their terrible mobility.

First, I think the Thor needs various movement-related buffs, one of them having no actual precedent in the history of SC2: increasing Thor's push priority to 11 (either allied or general, but I think general is better for the Thor). This mechanic has been ignored despite the fact that is almost essential for the ground giants, and would be an insane buff for both Thors and Ultras (which probably don't require it at this moment, but worth an evaluation for next year's design update).

For those who don't know this mechanic, changing it basically means that Thors would displace the rest of the units when moving, even if they are attacking. Normally, Thors would derp around until they find an opening, and would get blocked if surrounded by lings. With the change, this would completely change. It is a simple change with lots of potential.

Apart from that, I would suggest to increase Thor's base speed to 2.25 (using old numbers) which is the default walking speed of most units (non-stim bio, tanks, hellbats) so that would put them in line with the rest of the army. An interesting via to introduce this would be to add a 20-25% movespeed buff on the Servos upgrade, which would be really interesting to see on the Hellbat (which is a unit that has really fallen off the metagame) even at the cost of changing it in other areas (which is another topic) given how asymetric their usage is (TvZ rushes mostly).

And regarding micro, I think it is important to evaluate giving Thors some sort of turret tracking feature, which they don't actually have now. I think that adding some sort of partial turret tracking, like Goliaths have (given their lore connection to them) would actually make them significantly less clunky to use and (considering other movement changes) give some micro potential to the unit. This should come with a certain damage point reduction, since the Thor actually has the longer firing delay in the game if I'm not wrong which makes him awful to use. Please test the push priority change with extra speed. It would be BIG.

Regarding the damage department, I would suggest to change the current firing system of Thors to a single shot so they actually one shot minor units (which translate to less static attack downtime) and scale better into lategame (2 shotting roaches or adepts, for example), and especially increasing damage a bit vs Ultralisks, which fills better the "anti-giant" intended role of Thors and feeling more badass. In general, it wouldn't be bad to evaluate a small tradeoff between a bit of damage (which Thors have plenty) and a bit more of survival or the extra mobility. The current iteration of the Thor is probably a bit too turtly and clunky and simply acts as a DPS powerhouse (role that the Cyclone fits quite well too) and situational muta counter. The fact that it is balanced to be too static to actually perform movements heavily penalizes the Thor over a balanced compo of Factory units.

Now on the topic of ZvZ mutas, I think that specific changes like bonus damage vs bio on Infested marines, Queen AA or even Viper's bomb could buff the counter potential without breaking ZvZ air play too much.

On the Stargate PvP, while some minor buffs to Voids would be very welcome, targeted buffs to cannon AA are a good solution. However, I would go as far as suggesting reintroducing the Phase Cannon mechanic, only usable around nexuses with high cds, meaning that mineral cannons can be repositioned around mineral lines, which would help it a bit. It is also a worthy mechanic for Coop!
Seriously?

Nothing about tempests?

At all? Laughable
12/21/2018 05:06 PMPosted by Turtle
Seriously?

Nothing about tempests?

At all? Laughable


While new tempests are annoying, they dont seem too problematic. In the post it says they keep an eye..... IMO it is good to raise the talk, they are monitoring, but wait a bit more of time before changing them again.
12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
we’re keeping a close eye on the strength of Tempests, which we’re getting mixed feedback about


On the one hand it absolutely invalidates mech from the matchup, and on the other hand, they make BCs impossible to build and generally obliterate any late terran army once you've got enough of them.
But they're also way easier to mass and to use.

Mixed feedback indeed.
On the topic of ZvZ, has there been any consideration of giving hydralisks AA attack a +4 damage buff vs biological? That should negate the attack speed nerf in a way that doesn't affect other match ups. Hydras are meant to be poisonous after all.
12/21/2018 05:25 PMPosted by JackONeill
12/21/2018 11:44 AMPosted by Balance Team
we’re keeping a close eye on the strength of Tempests, which we’re getting mixed feedback about


On the one hand it absolutely invalidates mech from the matchup, and on the other hand, they make BCs impossible to build and generally obliterate any late terran army once you've got enough of them.
But they're also way easier to mass and to use.

Mixed feedback indeed.

Sure, but for Carriers that went extinct they are not keeping "a close eye" but have closed both eyes.....
For all those Ghosts, Vipers and Infestors that before the nerff croaked and now survive there is no need to keep a close eye......
Each of those units that survive translate in more other units that otherwhise would not exist......

Eventualy the Moron-Team has difficulties understanding. They work with "eyes" and ears for trolls like MyOhMind and not with the "little grey cells" in the Poirot lingo..........
"We’re considering attacking this issue from two angles, both by weakening proxy openers and making macro openers more robust."

I like that, good job!
I think the thor suffers from trying to juggle to many roles. Such as anti-mass light air, anti-capital ship, tank, and ground beater. In which most of these roles can be supplemented by other more specialized units such as tank, ghost, and liberators. Which are cheaper, lower supply and are easier to mass while also being able to afford other necessities for your army.

I also think the thor fails as a giant slayers. Since most of the good giants are air units and can abuse terrain and their decent speed against the thor making it unwieldy. With the exception of the broodlord whose slowness allows the thor to get into range to bring down the hammer.

Overall the thor has too many roles that can be easily supplemented by other units. Is bad at slaying the relevant giants in the game. With the role assignment as a anti-capital giant slayer it has essentially just become an overweight Goliath that is to slow to accomplish it's design.

The only interesting thing I think can be done with the unit is give it the fusion core requirement and let it be built by scvs. Maybe giving it a harpoon cannon that can allows it to drag air targets in the direction it moves.
Looks good for the most part, except two things that jump out:

1) I'm... not quite sure why you're getting mixed feedback about Tempests. They have much greater range and are only slightly slower than Vikings. They're not countered by Thors because, as air units, Tempests can be stacked to all attack one Thor at a time , while Thors, being huge, slow ground units, need time to get into position, time that they never get because the Tempests will have moved out of range immediately after attacking.

A well-microed force of Tempests will only ever take shield damage versus Terran. There is quite literally nothing Terran can do against Tempests, except weaken the Protoss sufficiently in the early and mid game so that he's forced to make non-Tempest units to survive. You say that Terrans use lots of proxies. Well, yes, it's because Tempests combined with the usual Protoss splash damage dominate Terran late game compositions, just as Carriers did before the latest patch.

In fact, if you think about it, Protoss has always dominated Terran in the late game, except for one short period at the beginning of LotV, before the liberator was nerfed.

2) Please, please don't buff the Nydus worm. I remember the old Nydus. There was nothing worse than spotting it instantly in my base, setting up my defense, and still dying to a bunch of roaches, lings, and queens.

The Nydus would be fine if it was used as the equivalent of proxies, spawned close to the enemy base (rather than inside it) to bring units more quickly to the battle and hit a timing. The reason it's not used this way is that, well, Zergs don't need it: They're already the most mobile of the three races, and they don't need to pressure the opponent to gain an advantage, because having a superior economic growth, they automatically gain an advantage as time passes unless they get pressured themselves. Therefore, the Nydus will only ever be used for all-ins that bypass all defences and rely on the opponent not looking at the minimap for a few seconds.

Besides, even without the Nydus Zergs already have the greatest variety of tools in the game, so much so that even the pros often seem to forget some of them exist. I've watched entire tournaments where Zerg pro-gamers don't use burrowed banelings or droplords or infestors, and they do just fine anyway.
While rarely encountered (lack of practice might be part of the problem), I find playing against upgraded Widowmines, especially drops, in PvT unproportionally frustrating.

That is my feedback.

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