The hot topic now. How should Hellbat be nerfed?
Many have attempted to answer this question, but few have answered the more fundamental questions satisfactorily.
Let’s start with the basic one. Is Hellbat overpowered?
Based on the fact that the discussion on forums has jumped to advance question like “how it should be nerfed?” The answer to the above question has been assumed to be a definite “yes”.
Are you telling me that Hellbat is not overpowered? I dare you!
I am going to answer this question with a “but”. So here it is…
Hellbat is overpowered, but only in Terran mirror.
Playing against Hellbat drop
Hellbat is relatively easy to defend for Protoss and Zerg in comparison to Terran, ironically. Although there are various openings for Hellbat drop, their timings are around 7:30. Thus, the key is what you have in base by 7:30. For Protoss, you can have Stalkers, Mothership Core and nexus cannon. sOs did well in shutting down INnoVation’s drop in the WCS final. For Zerg, spore crawler is important. The main issue for Zerg is that Hellbat can do crazy pick up micro to kill the Drones if there is no spore crawler. Queens definitely help, and a few Roaches should shut the drop. Soulkey defended against INnoVation so well in WCS Korea Final that the Medivac was gone before there was a chance for the Hellbats to unload. Importantly, these defensive measures only cause small hiccups to the build order.
As for Terran, defending against Hellbat drop can be very complicated. Unless you do a macro build that will sit back and purposely defend against Hellbat drop, your build will cross with your opponent’s. However, even if you choose to defend against Hellbat and macro, things are not that easy. For example, aLive’s mass Marine defense got eaten alive by Hellbat drop. More recently, as Flash planned to exploit the lack of anti-air in Hellbat opening by producing quick Battlecruisers, he still took reasonable amount of damage from Hellbat drop when he had turrets and bunkers in place. There isn’t an effective way to defend against it at 7:30, at least,no one has discovered it.
Having a bunker and a turret at each mineral line is perhaps the answer that players have now. The problem with Hellbat drop in TvT is that it hits early enough before the defense can be set up. Sure, you can build turrets and bunkers by 7:30, but at what cost? That will be 125 (engineering bay) + 200 (2x turret) + 200 (2x bunker) = 525. Unlike the other two races, the 525 mineral is a big disruption to the build order for Terran. Therefore, assuming that you are smart enough to deduce that opponent’s build before you lay down these defensive structures, you are behind even before the drop happens. Although these structures still have value as the game goes on since they help to defend against drops in the mid and late game, you have a hard time catching up from the deficit.
Another solution is to hit a timing. Filtersc has pointed out that Hellbat is weak without the support of tanks, and hence, there is a window of vulnerability.
What is the problem with Hellbat?
Identifying the actual problem with Hellbat is more tricky than defending against it.
In my opinion, the damage is a problem. 18 (+12 vs. light) is overpowered in TvT. Hellbat basically two shots Scvs and Marines. This makes it super effective in early game.
There are two other issues being brought up by the community. One is the cost of Hellbat. The other is the healing ability from the Medivac.
I think the cost of Hellbat (100 mineral) is not a problem. The only argument I think of regarding the cost is whether it should require gas (maybe 25).
The healing ability is an interesting one. Medivac makes Hellbat much harder to counter in the early game. Even a tank can be taken down by Hellbats because of the healing ability. However, the role of Hellbat is to tank and deal aoe damage to melee, and hence, the healing power is simply fulfilling the role. This makes it hard to deduce if healing is a problem.
How to fix the problem?
I have been thinking about how to fix the early drop issues and yet it is still viable in mid and late game. Hellbat drop should be given credit for the recent resurgence of mech composition. If Hellbat is to be nerfed, the change needs to have minimal effect on the viability of mech. I like the option of doing Hellbat drop for mech as it gives another dimension to the game instead of just turtling to 200/200.
In the end, I cannot think of a good way to fix the early game drop issue.
- Attack damage decreased from 18 +12 vs. light to 18.
- The Infernal Pre-Igniter upgrade increases attack damage from 18 to 18 +12 vs. light.
This change is quite brilliant. It deals with the timing and damage problem of Hellbat drop nicely, yet it does not affect mech in the late game. This potential change moves the +12 vs. light bonus to the Infernal Pre-Igniter upgrade. That is, Hellbat without the upgrade will only deal 18 damage to light. In another words, Hellbat drop at 7:30 is nerfed. Hellbat will take three shots to kill Scvs and Marines. It is a nerf but the drop is still viable.
Is it possible to get the upgrade for early drop? Yes, but the timing will be delayed which solves the timing issue that I have mentioned earlier. If a tech lab is attached to the factory, it takes two times the production cycle to produce the first pair of Hellbat. Furthermore, the extra 150 gas for the upgrade makes it impossible to hit as early as 7:30.
Eventually, Infernal Pre-Igniter will be upgraded for mech composition. Things will go back to what the current state of the game is. Therefore, this potential change addresses the early Hellbat drop issue and has minimal effect on the overall Hellbat usage for mech.
I hope this change is implemented. Smart change.
A side note: The buff for Banshee is a good touch as cloaked Banshee is clearly inferior to other options like Hellbat drop. I am not sure if the buff is too much though.