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Heroes of the StormJul 31, 2018 2:00 pm CT

Chromie slightly less of a frustrating terror thanks to upcoming Heroes of the Storm patch

In the Heroes of the Storm community, Chromie has become an increasingly contentious member of the game’s roster. Her intended role is a long-range artillery mage, a role she performs quite well — but many players believe she does it too well. Her spells deal a tremendous amount of damage, and while you can dodge her spells in theory, games don’t necessarily play out that way.

Even after Heroes of the Storm increased its camera distance, enabling players to see more of the map, Chromie’s attacks can often come out of nowhere. She’s able to stand safely in the fog of war and hurl her spells from a blindspot. Dragon’s Breath, her ground AOE, lacked any sort of visual telegraph — unlike nearly every other similar spell. And while Chromie is in visual range, players can theoretically dodge her Sand Blasts, but she can cast the spell so often that dodging them requires constant vigilance throughout a match. There’s a fine line between focus and anxiety, and players found Chromie’s presence to be anxiety-inducing more often than not. Her spells hit hard enough that if you slipped up even once, it could remove you from a fight.

That style of gameplay also created a feast-or-famine situation for Chromie herself. Her damage ramps up based on how many Sand Blasts she can land. A Chromie who successfully lands her Sand Blasts — either from striking from a blind spot or her opponents failing to dodge — will become even more of a monster over the course of a match. A Chromie who is thwarted in her attempts to poke her opponents will enter the endgame with far less damage than she should have at that point in the match.

Whether friend or foe, Chromie’s playstyle could be a serious drag. Luckily, the latest Heroes of the Storm PTR (which introduces new hero Whitemane) includes attempts to address this dichotomy:

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Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Official Post)

Assassin

Chromie

Stats
  • Basic Attack Range has been increased from 5.5 to 7

Abilities

  • Sand Blast (Q)
    • No longer gains bonus damage when hitting enemy Heroes
    • Range has been decreased from 17 to 15
    • Scaling damage increased from 2 to 4%
    • Echo scaling damage increased from 2 to 4%
    • Cast time decreased from 1 to .8 seconds
    • Mana cost decreased from 20 to 15
  • Past and Future Me (Sand Blast Quest)
    • Echo unlock requirements reduced from 60 to 50 Sand Blast hits
  • Dragon’s Breath (W)
    • Mana cost reduced from 70 to 50
    • Range decreased from 17 to 15
    • Dragon’s Breath’s ground splat is now visible to enemies .5 seconds after cast
    • Damage reduced from 480 to 360
    • Cooldown reduced from 12 to 9 seconds
  • Trait Addition: Bronze Talons
    • Hitting an enemy Hero with a Basic Ability increases the damage of Chromie’s next Basic Attack by 100%

Talents

  • Level 1
    • Mounting Sand (Q)
      • Additional Functionality:
        • Now also increases the damage of Sand Blast’s Echo by 40%
    • Timewalker’s Pursuit (Active)
      • Adjusted Functionality:
        • No longer grants Mana Regeneration per Regen Globe gathered. Now grants 1 extra Mana Regeneration on quest complete.
  • Level 2
    • Bronze Talons (Passive)
      • Removed
    • New Talent: Draconic Barrage (Trait)
      • Increase the bonus Basic Attack damage from casting Abilities by an additional 100%. Hitting an enemy Hero with Sand Blast grants 2 empowered Basic Attacks.
  • Level 5
    • Mobius Loop (W)
      • New functionality:
        • If an enemy Hero is hit by Dragon’s Breath, lower the cooldown by 2 seconds and refund the Mana cost
    • Chrono Sickness (E)
      • Slow amount reduced from 50 to 35%
  • Level 11
    • Time Out (Active)
      • Duration reduced from 7 to 5 seconds
  • Level 14
    • Fast Forward (Q)
      • Range requirement reduced from 75 to 70%
    • Quantum Overdrive (Active)
      • Ability Power bonus increased from 20 to 25%

Developer Comment: We’re making a few changes to Chromie to reduce the frustration when playing against her and to reduce her wide power variance between games. A number of these changes are designed to increase counter-play when playing against Chromie, like reducing her range on her abilities and letting enemies see Dragon’s Breath shortly after it has been cast. In exchange, Chromie’s Sand Blast has a shorter cast time, and she will now have a modified version of Bronze Talons baseline, where she can weave in auto-attacks for hitting enemy Heroes with her abilities. The reason we decided to give her the additional Bronze Talons trait is so that Chromie players are encouraged to interact more with their opponents. We’re rewarding them for getting into more dangerous positions with the possibility of increased damage output. This also lets us redistribute her damage away from her high burst, long range abilities, and more into something her opponents have a better opportunity to play around. We like Chromie’s unique place in our game as a long-range, artillery mage that requires enemies to pay attention to their positioning but over time we found that she simply had too much range and burst for players to feel like they had an engaging experience when playing against her. While we’ve had a blast with these changes, we’ll continue to keep an eye on her going forward and are prepared to make additional tweaks as needed.

These Chromie changes attempt to address the issues faced by players opposing Chromie, but also her own issues: Sand Blast will scale over the course of a match on its own rather than being reliant on (or benefiting from) consistently landing hits. These changes are wide-reaching and it would be incorrect to say she’s been nerfed; it would be equally incorrect to say she’s been buffed. Chromie’s strengths won’t be quite as strong and her weaknesses won’t be quite so weak. She has been normalized to bring her closer in line with the rest of the game, but not so far she’s lost all of her unique qualities. She still, in the end, has a longer range than (almost) anybody else in the game.

Chromie changes aren’t the only thing in this PTR build, of course. The patch also includes a number of changes to Stukov, although they won’t change his gameplay quite so severely:

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Official Post)

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Stukov

Talents
  • Level 1
    • Low Blow (E)
      • Moved from Level 13
      • Bonus damage reduced from 150 to 100%
    • Poppin’ Pustules (D)
      • No longer has a Quest component
      • New functionality:
        • Detonating a Weighted Pustule within 1.5 seconds of it expiring increases its damage by 100% and applies its damage and slow in an area
      • Explosion radius reduced from 4.5 to 3.75
  • Level 4
    • Biotic Armor (Q)
      • Physical Armor reduced from 50 to 15
      • Now works on all targets that have Healing Pathogen
      • Additional Functionality:
        • Now also grants 50 Physical Armor for 2.5 seconds to targets who have Healing Pathogen when Bio-Kill Switch is detonated
    • Vigorous Reuptake (D)
      • No longer has a Quest component
      • New functionality:
        • Bio-Kill Switch’s healing is increased by 25% if 3 or more targets have Healing Pathogen on them when Bio-Kill Switch is detonated
  • Level 7
    • Within My Reach (E)
      • Removed
    • The Long Pitch (W)
      • Bonus range reduced from 100 to 50%
      • Additional functionality:
        • Detonating 2 or more Weighted Pustules with a single cast of Bio-Kill Switch causes the cooldowns of non-Heroic abilities to recharge 100% faster for 3 seconds.
    • Growing Infestation (E)
      • Moved from Level 1
      • No longer increases the cooldown of Lurking Arm
      • New functionality:
        • Now reduces Lurking Arm’s channel duration to 4 seconds
  • Level 13
    • It Hungers (E)
      • Moved from Level 7
      • New functionality:
        • Increase the range of Lurking Arm by 20%. If Lurking Arm hits enemy Heroes 15 times, reset its cooldown and refund its Mana cost
  • Level 20
    • Push Comes to Shove (R)
      • Speed bonus removed
      • Additional functionality:
        • After colliding with terrain, enemy Heroes are slowed by 50% for 4 seconds
    • Top Off (Q)
      • Moved from Level 4
      • Bonus healing reduced from 50% to 30%
      • Adjusted Functionality:
        • Increased healing is now applied to all targets that have Healing Pathogen

Developer Comment: In the same vein as our earlier changes to Kael’thas, we felt that Stukov could use some love in the talent diversity department. We’ve made a number of functionality changes that should open up new builds and play styles, particularly in his earlier talent tiers.

Beyond the developer commentary, there are two details worth noting about these changes. First, two of Stukov’s talents will no longer be quests. Neither of the changed talents will end up as strong as the original quests upon their completion, but are stronger at a baseline level. Second, it appears the developers made an active effort to move power out of Stukov’s Lurking Arm talents. When building exclusively into Lurking Arm, the AOE silence could become an oppressive crowd control and area denial. While the Silence will still be powerful after these changes, there will no longer be fringe cases where Stukov can completely and indefinitely shut down an objective with an excessively long-range, wide-area Lurking Arm.

Perhaps in both cases, Chromie and Stukov’s Lurking Arm, the changes are not necessarily meant to shift game balance, but to resolve frustration and anxiety in the game’s playerbase. As long as both heroes remain viable and maintain the core of their unique playstyle, I would consider that a good thing.

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