HotS Alterac Pass balance patch buffs Generals and takes a swipe at the Cavalry
The Alterac Pass battleground released in Heroes of the Storm on June 19 to a generally positive reception. Unlike Hanamura, which was almost universally loathed, Alterac Pass is quite fun — it has a unique objective and players are always given a clear goal or purpose among the action. However, that doesn’t mean the map is perfect.
Thus far, the biggest complaint has been the objective is too powerful. Whichever team managed to secure the first objective most likely won the entire match — by a significant margin. Securing the objective sent cavalry units charging down each lane, and the cavalry unit bestowed a number of benefits:
- Soaking tower shots with a large pool of HP
- Gaining armor based on the number of nearby heroes
- Buffing nearby hero damage
- Buffing nearby hero movement speed
The cavalry seemed balanced under the assumption a team would spread out and try to push every lane with 1-3 heroes, rather than making a concerted 5-man push down one lane. However, with that 5-man push, structures seemed to be made out of paper, the damage buff could steamroll over a defense, and the high armor granted to the cavalry by so many nearby heroes meant it was going to stay alive much longer. During the first objective, it was entirely possible to build enough momentum to go straight to the core. Even if you couldn’t kill the General in that first push, opening up that lane meant Reavers, the map’s equivalent of catapults, would begin spawning and applying pressure in that lane continuously throughout the game.
Thankfully, Blizzard rolled out a balance update for Alterac Pass this week that addressed many of these issues. Notably, the cavalry has been fully rebalanced. The cavalry units no longer gain armor from nearby heroes, and their scaling has been adjusted to ramp up over the course of the game. Initially, they’ll be doing less damage than they used to — but once the game starts running long, the objective will become increasingly more powerful, with the cavalry potentially reaching a point where they’re even more damaging than they had been at launch.
This isn’t entirely uncommon for map mechanics in Heroes of the Storm; Blizzard has an ideal match length in mind. Once that threshold has passed, the game itself starts pushing you toward victory — or defeat. Level 20 Storm Talents work in much the same way: they tend to be extremely powerful, because once a match has run that long, it’s time to end it.
We’ve just applied a number of balance changes to the Alterac Pass Battleground.
- Health reduced from 24,000 to 20,000.
- Now gain 405 maximum Health every minute until minute 21 (excluding minute 1).
- No longer gain additional Armor for nearby Heroes.
- Health reduced from 10,000 to 8,000.
- Health scaling increased by 19%.
- Damage reduced from 85 to 65.
- Damage scaling increased by 22%.
- Reaver Minions
- Damage scaling increased by 50%.
Developer Comment: We’re making a few changes to Alterac Pass to reduce the frequency that one team can run away with an early lead, while still keeping the average game time roughly in line with our other Battlegrounds. We’re removing the mechanic that grants Cavalry additional Armor for every allied Hero in their aura, since we feel that multi-Hero pushes are already strong enough. We’ve also made Health scaling adjustments so that Vanndar and Drek’thar (the Core replacements) won’t be demolished as quickly by late game Heroes that have outscaled them and reduced their Armor. However, we are increasing the scaling of Cavalry and Reavers (Catapult replacements), so that games still end in a timely fashion. This should only come into play during games that become prolonged.
The change to the Generals is no big surprise, either, but probably not as necessary as the changes to the cavalry units. By late game, when all (or even most) of the opponent’s structures have been destroyed, the General was a serious cakewalk. If you could reach him, you could probably kill him. However, that’s not too different from maps that have a Core instead of a General. If you’ve reached level 20 (or higher) and have demolished all of your opponent’s structures, they’re going to have a hard time executing a strong defense. At that point in the game, the Core can melt away under a solid push.
That said, I’m not opposed to the change, and it isn’t exactly a massive change, either. Rather than having a base 24,000 health, the General will reach a maximum of 28,100 health by minute 21. If you’ve destroyed all of your opponent’s forts and reduced the General’s armor to 0, that much of a health increase isn’t likely to make a big difference.
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