StarCraft 2 balance update rolls back Ghosts, addresses other units
After going free to play, StarCraft 2 has seen some significant balance changes including a recent patch. Now more changes are incoming to deal with the unintended consequences of earlier changes. Blizzard has taken to the forums to detail their thinking, explaining exactly how and why they’re making each change and what they hope the effect will be. Since that’s a pretty bold move to make so soon after a major patch and because they’re aiming for a January 29 release date, it’s smart to be as transparent as possible in terms of what they’re changing and why.
The first updates are to Terran units and buildings. The changes to Ghosts haven’t worked out and they’re being reverted — because instead of getting players to play the Ghost with different tactics they just made the Ghost harder to play. Players clearly don’t find the change to EMP useful enough to do much with it, and Cloak is still king. So it’s going back to the earlier design. Meanwhile, players are finding it hard to justify creating a Tech Lab over a Reactor and as a result the Raven unit is stuck in a purely support role. In order to make it worth building, Auto Turret will be replacing the Repair Drone to make that trade off in choosing the Lab over Reactor more palatable in early gameplay.
For Zerg, there’s a fix to a bug that removes the cooldown on Viper units’ Parasite Bomb. Blizzard is also splitting the Hydralisk’s Muscular Augment into two separate upgrades, making it about twice as expensive to fully upgrade a Hydralisk. This makes them still useful in endgame but less likely to be seen in the earlier periods of play.
And for the Protoss, the Stalker unit is proving a bit too tough in the early phases of the game — so it’s being redesigned to reduce its power against lighter targets to keep it from dominating the early game battlefield. The Mothership and Nexus are getting an extra second of delay after Recall so opposing forces have time to respond, while the recent nerfs to Disruptors went a little too far and they’re being redesigned rather than reverting the changes like Blizzard did with Ghosts.
For the complete list you can read the post on the official site or here. It should be interesting to see if the changes have the intended impact on gameplay — and players who rely on Ghost units should be pleased.
We hope you all had a nice holiday season and have been enjoying the exciting matches happening at WCS, GSL, WESG and IEM. Though we issued a patch just recently, we’d like to take quick action on a few things based on what we’ve been observing in the live game and hearing in the forums.
Our currently goal is to push the next balance update live on January 29—but that is subject to change. Since this update is scheduled right before a number of key esports events for StarCraft II, we’re also planning to release a balance update mod prior to the patch going live so pro players have more time to practice.
We wanted to test out switching the upgrade built into the Ghost to see if we could create new tactical possibilities. This hasn’t really worked out the way we’d hoped it would; the extra energy for EMP hasn’t proven to be all that impactful, especially at high levels of play, compared to Cloak timings. Ultimately, the changes have resulted in an unintended nerf to the Ghost, so we’re going to revert the change entirely. Ghosts will have to research Cloak at the Ghost Academy, and will start with 75 energy instead of 50.
The Raven currently functions purely in a support role, which is a difficult one for an expensive detector/caster combination to fulfil in the early game. We think the issue is that since Terran players only have a small window of time in the early game to attach a Tech Lab to their first Starport, they often just choose to attach a Reactor instead—so they can easily mass produce Vikings, Medivacs and/or Liberators for midgame fights. Starport Tech Lab units have to provide more immediate value to justify both their cost and the trade-off of attaching a Tech Lab instead of a Reactor. Right now, the Raven is simply too much of an investment for the benefit it provides in the early game. We propose bringing back the Auto-Turret. Prior to our November update, we saw that players can use an early game Raven to harass and then transition it into more of a support/detection role. This adaptability helps offset its high cost and gives Terran players more ways to make their opening moves in a game. Auto-Turret would replace the current Repair Drone.
We’re also looking at improving Interference Matrix and Anti-Armor Missile. For the Interference Matrix, we’re testing out an increase in duration to 10 seconds. We think the current 6 seconds might be too low for a single-target disable. The Anti-Armor Missile, meanwhile, is difficult to land effectively, which often makes it too risky a purchase given how expensive it is. We’re testing a number of changes, which include: reducing its energy cost to 75; increasing its blast radius; and eliminating its startup phase, allowing the missile to start moving towards its target as soon as it’s executed.
Hydralisks currently act as a powerful midgame unit against Terran and Protoss. When fully upgraded, they can help secure a late-game transition for Zerg players, or a quick victory if the opponent is unprepared. We feel that this is a good role for them, but their upgrades can come online too quickly. We’re trying to make it a little more “costly” to upgrade Hydralisks by once again splitting Muscular Augments into two separate upgrades. The cost of each upgrade will be 100 Minerals, 100 Vespene Gas, and the research time will be 71 seconds, which doubles the time it takes to fully upgrade Hydralisks.
There is currently a bug in the game that causes Parasitic Bomb to deal damage instantly upon impact, rather than after a 1 second cooldown as we intended. We’re fixing this, which means the ability is getting a slight nerf.
Similar to the change to Hydralisks, we wanted to focus on Protoss’s midgame power. Stalkers are quite powerful at sniping units right now, which makes them a bit too capable of eliminating all early-game threats. This can give Protoss a powerful advantage in the mid and late-game. The buff also resulted in Stalkers overlapping more with Adepts for the early game anti-light unit role. We want to go with our previously mentioned change of bringing Stalker damage to 13 (+5 Armored) and decreasing their attack period to 1.87. The change in damage would make Stalkers (with zero upgrades) able to kill a Marine with four shots, while the increase in attack speed would allow Stalkers to dispatch Zerglings more quickly. The damage change also means that upgrades will have +1 to base damage and +1 to armored, instead of +2 to base damage. As a result, Stalkers will scale less favorably against light targets but still scale better versus armored than they did prior to the November design patch.
We wanted to add an additional 1 second of delay for the Mothership and the Nexus when these units warp in before players can command them. This will bring the overall time that units spend unable to take actions closer to pre-4.0 Recall timing, giving opponents a bit more time to react to incoming Protoss reinforcements.
In the last patch, we tried to address the fact that Disruptor drops were hard to deal with both because it killed workers too efficiently, and because ground units couldn’t pursue a Warp Prism when facing the threat of an instant Purification Nova. The delay we added seems to be weakening Disruptors too much, however, so we’re looking into various ways to address this issue.
Lastly, we saw a post on Team Liquid which proposed some adjustments to the Adept and Disruptor units to make them easier to manage and control. We think changes like this could be positive, so we want to try them out. Currently, Disruptors do not display range indicators unless you have a single one selected and are actively targeting with the Purification Nova ability. This can make it difficult to calculate the Purification Nova’s range. We want to try displaying the range indicator for all Disruptors while they’re selected to make it easier for players to calculate maximum distance for Purification Nova. As for Adepts, the fact that they stop moving after using the Psionic Transfer ability means their controls are a bit unclear. We want to try and change the Adept so that it will continue with its last issued command instead of simply stopping.
We understand this is a significant list of changes, so we’ll get out a balance test extension mod prior to the patch going live for pro players to practice on. Thanks for your continued feedback, and please let us know your thoughts on the proposed changes!
Please consider supporting our Patreon!
Join the Discussion
Blizzard Watch is a safe space for all readers. By leaving comments on this site you agree to follow our commenting and community guidelines.