Balance Patch: Hellbat and Banshee

miscellaneous

A new patch is expected to go live this week. It involves nerfing Hellbat and buffing Banshee. I will just talk about my opinion on the patch.

Here are the thoughts of the balance team.

1. Hellbat drops are mainly an issue for TvT.

2. Terran isn’t over performing so while nerfing Hellbats, we’d like to simultaneously push a buff to the Banshee.

3. We think seeing less Hellbat play in the early mid game is not a bad thing, as other Terran harass options are a lot more interesting to watch.

4. This change will also address any other lingering concerns we may have with Hellbats outside of TvT when it comes to early mid game.

So overall, we believe the changes we’ve been testing in the balance test map are solid for Hellbats:

  • 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.

Banshee changes on the other hand, we’re planning on going ahead with just the cost reduction change only:

  • Cloaking Field research cost decreased from 200/200 to 100/100

hellbat

1. Hellbat drops are mainly an issue for TvT.

Agree absolutely. As I have discussed previously, Hellbat drop is simply the best opening in TvT. while it is merely an option in the other two match ups.

2. Terran isn’t over performing so while nerfing Hellbats, we’d like to simultaneously push a buff to the Banshee.

I think the current balance is good. It is really hard to argue that a race is better than another now. But when I combine point 1 and 2 together, things get interesting. If Hellbat is mainly an issue for TvT, a Hellbat nerf should not have much of an impact on TvP and TvZ. If Banshee is buffed to balance the nerf on Hellbat, will the buff upset the balance for TvP and TvZ? I am not really arguing it will or will not as it takes time to figure out, but it is just something to think about.

3. We think seeing less Hellbat play in the early mid game is not a bad thing, as other Terran harass options are a lot more interesting to watch.

This is in line with the general direction of how the balance team wants the game develops. Players should not have a definite best option (for e.g. Hellbat drop) in order to make things interesting. The recent Warp Prism buff also supports this assertion.

4. This change will also address any other lingering concerns we may have with Hellbats outside of TvT when it comes to early mid game.

Sure, I am a fan of the Hellbat change. The current problem with Hellbat is the drop in early game, and hence, Hellbat should not be nerfed to the extend that it is weaker in the later phase of the game.

banshee

The patch’s implication

Is Hellbat drop still viable in the early game?

Yes for all match ups as Hellbat still can three shots workers. The nerf simply increases the damage threshold. By damage threshold, I am referring to the point whereby the Hellbat drops deal significant damage. Before the patch, the first Hellbat drop should kill a few workers in general, assuming that the receiving player pulls the workers and reacts accordingly. After the first drop there are workers that are bruised (taken one hit from the Hellbat), and subsequent Hellbat drops will kill these weakened workers. The damage then piles up again with more bruised workers, and there will be a decisive drop that crosses the damage threshold. With the patch, the accumulative damage is less significant which increases the damage threshold. Thus, it is harder to actually win a game through Hellbat drops only.

Will cloaked Banshee become the next Hellbat drop?

Intuition tells me no. Banshee micro definitely has a higher skill ceiling than Hellbat drop. You need to kite and juggle the Banshee and not just leave it there to do the damage. On the other hand, you can just fly the Hellbats in and do a suicide drop. The Hellbat will almost definitely do certain damage. The difference is obvious for casual players.

How does the patch affect mech?

Everyone is discussing how it should not affect mech as you can get the Infernal Pre-Igniter upgrade later in the game. I actually think it does but in a less direct way.

Let’s remove the cost of the upgrade from the discussion.

In general, mech starts with some form of early harassment. For e.g. Hellions, Hellbats, Banshees, proxy Marauders etc. Then, there will be a transition period whereby mech has to be defensive to build up Tank count. This is mainly because the relative army size and effectiveness is not favorable for mech.

In the early game, mech usually has the tech advantage and opponent has to be defensive. Opponent will start to have a sizable army as the game approaches midgame with the key upgrades like stim. Mech is inferior in comparison and has to survive this phase. Then, when mech reaches a certain army supply, the power of mech kicks in.

With the effectiveness of Hellbat drop now before the patch, the transition through these three phases is much smoother and safer for mech. The vulnerable time frame of mech is well covered because of the Hellbat drop. It is so effective that it pins opponent in base. By the time the bio moves out, the time frame has past and the mech army is not that vulnerable. I have seen the bio players have to invest so much in defending that the third command centre is actually later than the mech player. Mech is better than bio in TvT. Period.

With Hellbat drop being less effective after the patch, it opens up the vulnerable time frame of mech. It is harder for Hellbat to do enough damage to pin opponent in base.

How does the Banshee buff affect TvP and TvZ?

Oracle hits before Banshee, which makes it an unattractive opening in my opinion. Stargate tech is good against Banshee to begin with. Oracle can reveal the cloaked Banshee. Now mix in Phoenix. =(

The Banshee buff could have stronger effect on TvZ than TvP. Banshee and Hellion combination is strong against early all-in in TvZ. The reason for not getting Banshee now is that it is ineffective offensively. The Hellbat option is clearly better in this aspect and the opportunity cost of Banshee is high. The patch could encourage more usage of the Banshee and Hellion combination.

All in all, I think it is a reasonable patch.

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2 thoughts on “Balance Patch: Hellbat and Banshee

  1. Yeah, Hellbats needed to be man-handled by Blizzard. Most of TvT’s were based on who dropped hellbats first. Really sad match-up. Even tho I still had a good win percentage, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I used to. Great job, Blizzard, as always <3.

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