Plausible Balance Changes

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Blizzard is considering several balance changes on a test map. I agree and disagree with some of them.

Mech ground and air attack upgrades combined

We’ve been looking at this for a long time now, and it feels like a solid step in the right direction.

Widow mine splash radius decreased from 1.75 to 1.1 

We’d like to push out the Widow Mine a little bit and bump up the Siege Tank so that bio play becomes more interesting. Ultimately, we believe a mix of Widow Mines and Siege Tanks with your bio army will be a lot more fun to watch than just Widow Mines with bio alone.

Siege tank attack period decreased from 3 to 2.7

Bio play may be more interesting with the Widow Mine change and this buff. Not only that, we believe Terran mech armies can be a lot more viable because faster attack speed naturally means Siege Tanks will be better against their hard counters.

Oracle cost decreased from 150/150 to 150/100

Protoss feels like it has been playing too defensively (outside of Warp Prism harasses). We’re seeing Oracles only being used in the early game, and not much during any other stage of the game. We hope by reducing the gas cost of the Oracle, they’ll be used more throughout the game.

Dark Templar movement speed increased from 2.813 to 3.375

We believe that Dark Templars could be more interesting to watch if it’s not just a matter of the opponent being prepared or not. Even when their opponents are prepared, we believe by increasing Dark Templar’s movement speed, there could be more interesting interactions, such as dodging out of detection range more often

Roach speed upgrade also increases the burrowed roach movement speed from 1.41 to 2.25

We just don’t see Tunneling Claws coming into play much. There’s some really cool micro potential with burrow-moving Roaches, and we’d like to see how this goes in a test map.

In my opinion, the current balance is pretty good overall, albeit it is quite stagnated. Although quite a number of discussions has suggested that TvP is Protoss favored and TvZ is Terran favored, it doesn’t seem to be “imbalance”. However, the metagame is stagnate to a huge extent. So changes are welcomed.

Mech ground and air attack upgrades combined

This is nothing new. It was previously suggested as a way to encourage mech composition. I wonder what’s its impact on TvT. Interestingly, in a bio vs. mech game, the bio player often has the air control at certain point of the game as the mech player focuses on Medivac count. In theory, the upgrade should favor the mech player as s/he has the “mech/air” upgrade advantage. But does that make a difference? I doubt so.

This upgrade change should buff Terran in TvP. There are two concerns in TvP now: Mothership Core and Zealot. Mothership Core allows Protoss to tech up and defend multi pronged attack effectively. It is hard for Terran to do much in the mid game. Personally, I think Zealot is the problem, but not the death ball. Late game Zealot is simply too strong in various ways. It is good for Warp Prism harass: Warp in 8-10 Zealots and Terran has to react substantially. The issue is the risk-benefit-execution balance. The risk is low. At most you loss the Warp Prism which is more than expendable, the Zealots are not in the Warp Prism itself unlike Medivac and bio. The benefit is obvious: force Terran to move a big chunk of units back (positioning) and stall time for death ball. The execution is easy, because you really can just warp in and ignore them. The Zealots will serve their purpose even if you don’t control them. Often people complain about balance by minimising the other party’s difficulty of execution, but I must say Warp Prism Zealot at late game is annoyingly effective and easy to execute.

The recent game between INnoVation vs. Zest sums it up.

Another problem with Zealot is the post-deathball trade efficiency. Big battle of Marine + Maruder + Medivac + Viking + Ghost vs. Zealot + Stalker + Colossus + Sentry + High Templar + Archon is common in TvP. The battle requires both players to position and control their units well. The winner of the battle is usually the winner of the game. However, when both players are closely matched and come out with almost equal deficit, Protoss has the advantage. Protoss can then warp in a bunch of Zealots, and Terran does not really have an answer. This problem was brought up way back in Wings of Liberty, and Hellbat was supposed to be the solution. With the Hellbat nerf for the sake of TvT, TvP is an issue. Prior the nerf, Terran would transit from Marine to Hellbat. Probably only ForGG still transits to Hellbat and upgrades blue flame.

The fact that Hellbat transition requires blue flame upgrade and mech upgrade deters you from doing so. Now, the air attack upgrade is only required  for Vikings against Colossus. By combining mech ground and air attack upgrade, it gives Terran incentive to transit to Hellbat. This can potentially change the metagame.

Widow mine splash radius decreased from 1.75 to 1.1 

The current TvZ is quite balance at the top level. INnoVation does not look as unbeatable as he was and Zerg deals with Widow Mine much better now. The Overseer buff has a bigger impact on the match up than simply “reduce the number of things Zerg has to do“. Zerg players now snipe Widow Mine with Mutalisk and Overseer so well that it is very powerful in the hands of progamers. The Overseer patch does not only help Zerg in Mutalisk control, but also changes how Zerg engages Terran in big battle. Zerg now use Overseers as tank in big battle to draw Widow Mine shot. It takes two Widow Mine shot to kill an Overseer and the Widow Mine splash damage will friendly fire on the Marines too. It can be big if it is refined. Dimaga did it against Flash and Curious did it against INnoVation.

By nerfing Widow Mine’s splash radius, Terran is going to have a hard time. Blizzard argue that the nerf is to cycle out the reliance of Widow Mine and not to adjust the balance of the match up. In return, Siege Tank is buffed.

Siege tank attack period decreased from 3 to 2.7

I am skeptical about this. A mixture of Tank and Widow Mine is possible, but the play styles are different. With just Widow Mine, Terran can do mini skirmishes all over the map. However, Tank is effective when it is a big battle with a certain Tank count. It is hard to visualise the mixture of these two. I tried mixing these two up with two standard factories by producing two Widow Mines and one Tank at a time. The Tanks work fine only when I wait for a few before moving them out with the main army. I wonder how the progamers will do with these two changes. I am not optimistic about the changes.

Oracle cost decreased from 150/150 to 150/100

This is bad. When the game is balance, you cannot simply buff a certain thing and not nerf another. This will upset the balance. Blizzard’s reason is not about balance, but it is about making the game exciting. I have nothing against the rationale, but it is silly to buff and not nerf. This change  is not going to encourage Protoss to play offensively anyway, Protoss now can play defensively with better harassment units. It is just logic. If all else being equal and the harassment units get buff, it does not mean that Protoss will not play defensively. They can play defensively like they do now with better units in their arsenal.

Dark Templar movement speed increased from 2.813 to 3.375

Same as Oracle cost change.

Roach speed upgrade also increases the burrowed roach movement speed from 1.41 to 2.25

This seems random. The reason does not justify the change convincingly.

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