The Patch Notes Which Could Save SC2

General Discussion
Nobody is in denial that Starcraft 2 is no longer as watchable or playable as it was in previous patches. It's inevitable that trends in strategy will crystallize around safe, standard play, but that doesn't mean it's inevitable that spectators should be bored just because they can predict what strategies professionals will use.

Mirror match-ups have come a long way since the beta, but in my opinion, the issues with games involving infestor/broodlord compositions in PvZ and TvZ which are hurting SC2 as a spectator sport can be fixed in a way that does not adversely affect gameplay. These are my thoughts:

INFESTOR

1) Fungal Growth should be changed to perform like the Queen's Ensnare ability in Brood War. It will be a projectile that moves very fast -- at least as fast as EMP's projectile currently moves in SC2. It will make it possible to juke fungal growths as much as it's possible to juke storms/EMPs.

Why? This will increase the skill cap for aiming / dodging Fungals more than the current design and will increase tension for spectators.

2) Fungal Growth's total damage (even vs. armored) remains the same but the duration is increased to its original duration. Fungal Growth's radius is increased by 33%.

Why? Fungal Growth should be a support spell. Infestors have a damaging spell already, the Infested Terran, on which's toes Fungal Growth currently steps.

If the infestor is capable of handling zergling/baneling or marine/marauder armies on its own, banelings become superfluous. However, having Fungal "bruise" MMM balls will allow fungaled, stimmed marines to still be 1-shot by banelings and perhaps encourage Terrans to spend starport build time on medivacs instead of vikings to prevent this (i.e., it might create situations where the Terran player needs to make interesting decisions rather than just watching the majority of his marines die no matter how many medivacs he has).

The range increase is to compensate for the reduced DPS and the relative increase in difficulty to successfully land a Fungal Growth after these changes. Also the increase in range for the AoE affect will only encourage players to spread their units out even more than they do in preparation for fungals, hopefully reducing the deathball-syndrome that plagues SC2.

Furthermore, these two changes reduces the number of infestors needed to sufficiently cast Fungal Growth on an army. Because the Fungal Growth lasts twice as long and covers more area, it's actually detrimental to make more than 6-10 infestors if you only intend to use infestors for Fungal Growth. A player can still build more infestors to spam infested terrans for higher damage output.

3) Fungal Growth no longer roots -- it decreases the unit's movement speed to half of its BASE value (ignoring passive bonuses of Charge, Metabolic Boost and Stimpack, for example) and increases the delay between units' attacks by 50%.

Why? Again, Fungal Growth should not be a spell used for its damage (that's the role of the Infested Terran spell), it should be used for its utility.

For example in TvZ, if the Terran opens with pure bio (MMM) instead of mech or bio/mech, the Zerg player should eventually be forced to get banelings to defend. The Terran player can still mitigate splash damage through micro. To prevent this, the Zerg can get baneling speed to prevent stutter step off creep and split his own banes/target them on marines. In response, the Terran player can research Stimpack and split.

To offset Stimpack, the Zerg can use Fungal Growth to nullify the attack and movement speed increase the Terran receives from stimming (and, through slight damage, also offset the Terran's own investment in support casters, in this case the medivac). However, in this case, if the Terran is still good at splitting, he can mitigate the damage of banelings better than a less-skilled Terran. A more-skilled Zerg would be able to use his ability to aim Fungal Growth better on a fast-moving group of stimmed units (or would use the element of surprise to catch those units before they're stimmed) than a less-skilled Zerg.

Why? This change not only allows for superior micro and positioning to play a role in battles after Fungal Growths have landed, but it also allows more room for error in opponents.

Why is room for error important? It opens the door for a wider variety of strategies. For example, if Fungal Growth were less dominant, currently sub-par compositions like Muta/Ling might make a resurgence because mutalisks would retain the ability to retreat. However, the mutalisk flock would still be unable to retreat without taking any losses due to the snare and speed of hydralisks on creep. Corruptors would also be able to chase down fungal'ed mutalisks in this case. However, it would still force the infestor style to invest in AA beyond the infestor itself.

It also allows ravens to be used against broodlord / corruptor more reliably, since the fungal won't completely stop the ravens from closing distance, which will prompt the Zerg to be vigilant about clumping his air units.

4) Infested Terrans no longer benefit from ranged attack / carapace upgrades.

Why? Infested Terrans need to be less robust in the late game.

Currently, infested terrans do very well as part of harassment and certain timing attacks designed to delay/destroy the 3rds of P and T. There's no reason this should be changed. Their upgrades aren't an issue for T -- it's rare that Zergs research ranged attack against T except in cases of mech, and in those cases, current Fungal Growth pinning down vikings and ravens is more detrimental than infested terrans shooting them down. However, infested terrans present a problem in late-game PvZ adding too much "free supply" to the fight. Since infested terrans would rarely be benefiting greatly from upgrades for mid-game timings or harassment, I feel this is an effective way to reduce the DPS of infested terrans in the late-game against heavily-upgraded protoss units without making the spell useless.

HYDRALISK

1) Increase the hydralisk's off-creep speed to 2.5, up from 2.25.

Why? This will allow hydralisks to be more useful in mid-game Lair armies and allow them to not necessarily be a purely defensive tech choice. They would be able to escape unstimmed marines, slow roaches/banelings and non-charge zealots, but not marauders with concussive, banelings with speed or un-upgraded stalkers. It would allow the Zerg to also micro hydralisks better in certain situations.

2) Hydralisk damage increased by +4 vs. armored targets.

Why? The hydralisk currently has a very narrow role: anti-air. It shares this role with the corruptor and the infestor, both of which perform this role much better. This change would not only give the hydralisk an advantage in this role (differentiating it with the corruptor as the tool to use versus massive air targets as opposed to the hydralisk's new specialty with non-massive armored).

This change will also make roach / hydralisk slightly more viable in ZvT, especially against MMM (as an answer to marauders). It will also potentially make hydralisks a viable option to fight certain non-colossus-based Protoss all-ins like immortal / sentry and blink stalker which might be even stronger against a less potent (DPS-wise) Fungal Growth. It could also allow Zerg to fight mech with Lair-based armies.

Furthermore, it will also make ZvZ less based on massing infestors. Without the DPS against armored targets that the infestor currently provides (per my changes above), ZvZ could potentially see a regression of metagame back to roach wars. With the hydralisk as a viable answer to mass roach (at equal upgrades, the new hydralisk would kill a roach in 4 less shots, from 14 to 10), perhaps opens up viable zergling / baneling styles in the matchup that aren't suicidal past the first 10 minutes.

RAVEN

1) Cost for Seeker Missile reduced to 100 Energy.

Why? Even after an energy upgrade, the Raven takes too long to build and too long to accumulate the energy needed to combat corruptor / broodlord compositions. The transition period is too great for a spell that requires at least two direct hits on closely clumped units to achieve kills.

2) Supply cost for raven increased to 3, up from 2.

Why? To offset the fact that two, full-energy Ravens can cast two Seeker Missiles, in the maxed-out Terran sky army, there either needs to be less Ravens overall (or a drawback in supply for vikings and battlecruisers). I believe this compromise is fair -- for every six supply of ravens, you would have 4 seeker missiles (or 3 seeker missiles and 1 PDD) with the new raven, as opposed to a total of 3 seeker missiles and three PDDs with the current raven.

BATTLECRUISER

1) Build time reduced to 75, from 90.

Why? Battlecruisers can be cornerstone that allows Terrans to survive Zerg late-game tech switches. Battlecruisers can Yamato Cannon broodlords, survive against corruptors with raven and viking support, and allows Terrans to have a unit which can stall for time against an ultralisk switch when so much supply is tied up in vikings and energy-depleted ravens. Given the nature of battlecruisers' attacks (multiple, low damage attacks with a high rate-of-fire), ultralisks are surprisingly resilient with their upgrade.

I believe this will encourage more Terran players to build battlecruisers and create interesting choices for Zerg (Should I hatch countless corruptors to regain air control? Or should sidestep the battlecruisers with ultralisks and attempt to destroy the Terran's infrastructure before he can kill them?).

GHOST

1) Snipe increased to 50 energy. Deals 50 damage. Deals double damage to psionic targets. Biological targets only.

Why? It feels wrong that Snipe doesn't actually even kill a zergling in one hit. However, the old snipe was too powerful. This version of snipe deals the same amount of damage for the same energy cost. The only difference is that Snipe takes less spamming to actually deal that damage. This is increases the DPS of Snipe by 100%, but keeps the total amount of damage via Snipe available for the Terran player at its current level, making Snipe NOT useful against Zerg Hive tech.
If a Terran masses ghosts and spends all his energy sniping broodlords, he won't have any energy for the ultralisk transition. However, it does make the ghost a useful unit again in TvZ because:

A. Ghosts can be used to snipe infestors in a single shot, like Feedback. EMP is too unwieldy, but single ghosts might be able to clear out overseers quickly and get some snipes off before a Fungal lands and reveals the ghosts.

B. Ghosts aren't COMPLETELY useless against Zerg Hive tech, but they would be a bad long-term investment. Again, this is good for spectating because the Terran player is making a hard decision -- go ghosts now to neutralize the infestors and survive this push and hope to transition to ravens before the next tech switch, or be greedy and attempt to hold out without ghosts, getting battlecruisers and ravens faster? Currently, Terran doesn't have a choice -- he can only do the latter.

2) Cost reduced to 150/100, down from 200/100.

While ghosts are powerful enough in TvP, ghosts are too expensive to make in mid-game TvZ against infestor-based armies. If the ghost mineral count was reduced, it would help bio-only compositions to field ghosts as a response to infestors instead of relying on flanks with marauders only (since they would lack access to tanks, which is the midgame response for marine/tank/medivac and mech).

In TvP, the typical limiting factor in the initial production of ghosts is actually gas, not minerals, if a 3 base terran is spending his gas wisely on upgrades and starport units. I feel the reduction in cost of 50 minerals is negligible for TvP.

HIGH TEMPLAR

1) Feedback range increased to 11, up from 9.

Why? Because Snipe can now kill High Templar in a single shot and ghosts can gain vision advantage over a High Templar at any time due to scans, the High Templar need a boost in range to even the micro playing-field between Snipe and Feedback.
The reason why the High Templar now has a range advantage over a ghost is because the feedback isn't guaranteed to kill a ghost for 50 energy, but the High Templar is guaranteed to die to a Snipe for 50 energy.

Also, this might make it easier for High Templar to effectively Feedback infestors or Overseers, making lategame PvZ hopefully more micro-oriented.

While one might argue that Snipe is now superior to Feedback because it guarantees a kill, one must remember that Snipe only works against biological casters, not Ravens, Banshees, Battlecruisers or Thors, while Feedback still does.

VOID RAY

1) Flux Vanes reintroduced. However, Flux Vanes now increases the range of the Void Ray by 2. Requires Fleet Beacon. 150 minerals / 150 gas / 80 seconds.

Why? In the spirit of Anion Pulse-Crystals, the Void Ray's Flux Vanes allow the Void Ray to combat the units it was designed to combat (corruptors/broodlords/ultralisks). Having such a large range early in the game would be unmanageable in PvT and PvZ due to stargate all-ins. This does require an investment from Protoss, though -- the tech switch to complete stargate tech is expensive.

Void Rays would still be susceptible to hydralisks, which now would kill them in 16 shots instead of 21, but Void Rays are now able to reposition even while Fungaled (though, they could not retreat completely).

MOTHERSHIP

1) Vortex removed. Replaced with Stasis. Same cost as Vortex, however, it functions like Stasis did on the Arbiter in Brood War. It lasts 20 seconds. It does not clump units entering or exiting Stasis. While in Stasis, units are invulnerable and are unable to attack or use abilities.

Why? This should be self-explanatory! Vortex is not broken conceptually -- its implementation is broken. Stasis allows Protoss to fill the role of Vortex -- i.e., to "forcefield in the air" and split a poorly positioned army in two to make it manageable to fight. Stasis, however, does not clump Zerg units in such a way to create abusive archon toilets which are not fun to spectate (and are insanely frustrating to play against).

Blizzard can even use the same graphic as Vortex if it wants (super bright, sucking units into it, etc.). It just needs to return all units to their original position before being sucked in before the immunity wears off (and only units initially in the radius can be sucked in -- you can't throw archons in after you've casted it).

IN SUMMARY:

Infestors have been changed to synergize less with deathball-style play, overlap roles with other specialized Zerg units less (hydralisks, banelings) and deal less damage per point of energy in max-army situations. It also now provides situations in which superior micro and positioning can make more of a difference.

Hydralisks have been changed to be more effective before their upgrade is research, less unforgiving to use, and given a wider role within the Zerg arsenal than situational, fragile anti-air. They are also an interesting alternative to stopping mid-game Protoss attacks which lack colossus or high templar because they can fire over forcefields to crush stalkers and quickly bring down immortal shields (and now can outrun sentries).

The return on investment in Ravens is less precarious and risky without increasing their relative power in a maxed-army scenario.

Switching to an end-game air army which includes Battlecruisers is already prohibitive with split armory upgrades -- hopefully reduced build times on Battlecruisers will lead to them seeing viable use (similar to what happened with the Ultralisk build-time reduction).

The ghost has been changed to be a more effective anti-caster with snipe and a viable stopgap in TvZ to buy time for Terran's response to Zerg's Hive tech. Its cost has been reduced to make it viable as a response to infestors in the midgame if going MMM (prompting the Zerg to make banelings and infestors).

High templar's anti-caster abilities have been improved to keep it on par with ghosts and infestors. High templar should be a viable alternative to infestors, alongside colossus, just like Terran can use ghosts or siege tanks.

The Void Ray's role as an anti-massive flyer has been focused on in order to ensure that they are actually built. Alongside Carriers (whose interceptors are no longer frozen by Fungal Growth), late game PvZ could possibly transition into Sky Protoss which would perhaps allow the newly-buffed hydralisk to play a role in multiple stages of PvZ.

Vortex was changed to Stasis because archon toilets are gimmicky and nobody enjoys them -- from the players to the fans.
It's the second ItWhoSpeaks!!!!!!

That was a compliment btw.

lol, I actually did skim that, Poly.
11/12/2012 01:50 PMPosted by Polychrome
Ain't nobody (except maybe blitz) got time for that.


Haha!

I'm working on it. Edits are my friend.
11/12/2012 01:48 PMPosted by Sinuhe
Nobody is in denial that Starcraft 2 is no longer as watchable or playable as it was in previous patches
Sorry, i'm in denial.
I think the your opening, Sinuhe, would turn off a lot of posters (like zappy). Your ideas sound well thought out (and also not involving crazy swapping of unit roles or tech paths), but the "SC2 is dying" thing got old a while ago.
11/12/2012 01:56 PMPosted by blitz
I think the your opening, Sinuhe, would turn off a lot of posters (like zappy). Your ideas sound well thought out (and also not involving crazy swapping of unit roles or tech paths), but the "SC2 is dying" thing got old a while ago.


I figured a title which contained the words "Patch Notes" and "Save SC2" would garner the most attention.
11/12/2012 01:48 PMPosted by Sinuhe
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11/12/2012 01:48 PMPosted by Sinuhe
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I think the your opening, Sinuhe, would turn off a lot of posters (like zappy). Your ideas sound well thought out (and also not involving crazy swapping of unit roles or tech paths), but the "SC2 is dying" thing got old a while ago.


I figured a title which contained the words "Patch Notes" and "Save SC2" would garner the most attention.
I'll clear this up, your opening statement makes it seem as though the game is a hopeless utter mess, when really, if you wipe the tears out of your eyes for a second and occasionally accept responsibility for your losses as opposed to passing them off as imbalance you would realize that the game is actually in a fairly decent state overall. Not that you necessarily fall into these categories, but unless someone agrees with your first line 100% they are very unlikely to read on, and even less likely to agree should they choose to tackle the excellently written page of patch notes before us.

Although, if you want some serious feedback, vortex's removal, while nice, needs to be accompanied by other protoss buffs, otherwise brood lord clouds will be near impossible to deal with. The void ray buff seems irrelevant, as they still do not do enough damage against anything unless massed. corruptors and now hydras will be able to dispatch void rays with reasonable cost efficiency, so their use is still incredibly limited.

That said, your zerg and terran adjustments are incredibly well thought out.
11/12/2012 02:04 PMPosted by VIPER
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1) Snipe increased to 50 energy. Deals 50 damage. Deals double damage to psionic targets. Biological targets only.


What.
I'm not totally sure about reducing the cost / supply of some of the units like that, but otherwise your proposals seem fairly reasonable.

I think it would be easier to just make fungal growth more like chains of ice though: goes from a 90% slow to a 0% slow over its duration (while also doing damage).

As far as infested terrans? I think just reducing the range of the ability and possibly making it impossible to cast while burrowed would be sufficient. If making an infested terran was only a 5 range ability, you wouldn't be able to make the ridiculously overpowered infested terran insta-armies without exposing your infestors to enemy fire, and wouldn't be able to make your infestors counter units they were supposed to be countered by (like Siege Tanks).
11/12/2012 02:26 PMPosted by Spyder
1) Snipe increased to 50 energy. Deals 50 damage. Deals double damage to psionic targets. Biological targets only.


What.


I suggested this a while ago. What it does is allows ghosts to 1-hit all biological casters bar queens and overseers with snipe, as opposed to 2-hit killing them, but it still uses the same amount of energy. It halves the APM requirements of ghosts, but keeps the same damage potential.
Read the whole thing. It looks really good, but i'd like one thing clarified:

With these changes, void rays will be the only way for Protoss to deal with broodlords, right? Dont get me wrong, the extended range for void rays is very appealing but since you changed vortex to stasis, Protoss now only has one good option (voids) for broodlords. (no more archon toliet) In contrast, Terran has vikings, ravens, etc... Changing broodlords or another protoss unit to give protoss more options vs broodlords seems like a good idea IMO.

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