Blizzard has announced the release date for Heart of the Swarm.
So what does that mean?
First of all, the date. Or should I say the pending date?
Although it seems pretty certain that Heart of the Swarm will be released on 12 March 2012, there is a chance that it will get pushed back to another date. This is Blizzard after all. I do not mind to wait for a month or two more if it is necessary to balance the game further.
Second, this implies that Blizzard is confident with the progress of the closed beta.
Another word, do not expect major changes in the beta. From Terran perspective, it seems like there will not be a new unit to replace warhound in Heart of the Swarm. I am disappointed if there is no new mech unit to fill the role of warhound. Blizzard was heading toward the right direction when one of their objectves in Heart of the Swarm is to allow Terran to play defensively. That is, in contrast with the current Wings of Liberty metagame, Terran can be more passive and have its own deathball. The current Terran is bio-driven and mech is generally less effective (probably only more viable against zerg). This forces Terran to be the aggressor most of the time since there is no end game ‘winning criteria’ to fall onto. For example, Zerg has the infestor and broodlord combination. Thus, widow mine and hellbat will be the only new units, and they are not in sync with the objective of giving Terran a late game composition.
I know that warhound is exceptionally good in the beta, which justifies its removal. However, a nerf will be more appropriate. Oh yes, I know it is not that simple when it comes to balancing issues. But certainly, I’m not on the side that warhound should be completely removed. Moreover, what happen to the “give Terran a unit to break tank lines in TvT?” Warhound was the intended answer.
Third, some of the changes just seem weird to me.
For example, hellbat is a “half-mech half-bio unit“. The original intention for hellbat is that it gives Terran a tanking unit option. But if medivac can heal hellbat, it is just weird.
Blizzard has the intention to buff reaper since the usage is still rather low. They should ask themselves this question, “what is the role of reaper?” The current role of reaper is scout. Clearly, it does not justify its opportunity cost with the long build time now. I do agree that the most effective way to encourage the use of an unit is to buff it. However, just how much can you improve it without changing its role? If Blizzard improve the stats, will reaper then be viable in face to face battle? If it does, then will it be like a mobile unit like stalkers, which also contradict with roles of marine and marauder.
If there is one thing I want Blizzard to sort out for Terran, I hope it is to work toward the objective of giving Terran a late game composition.
All in all, I’m not optimistic with the balance issues.