My Take on the Current TvP (Part 2: Qualitative)

protoss

I had laid down the foundation for discussion from an empirical perspective in the previous post. I will move on the something that is more subjective in this post. That is, it is just my opinion.

There are two sides of the argument.

  1. Protoss has the advantage. (I put it in a nice way, if you get what I mean.)
  2. The match up is balance.

Interestingly, I don’t see the third side of the argument: Terran has the advantage.

Quite often people judge things, then look for evidence that support their judgment. They also reject evidence that contradicts their judgment by pointing out its limitations and weaknesses. This results in things like:

Omg! Did you see that Blizzard?! That one storm destroys half of Terran army! Fix this shit!

I do not want to exclude the possibility that storm may be an issue. The problem is that people fix the mindset on storm (i.e., Protoss) is OP, and pick specific cases to support their argument. I bring this up because I know opinion based argument will always invite counter-argument. So read this post with an open mind. I am fine that you have a different opinion, and I certainly do not mind if you post your thoughts in the comment. But keep it as objective as possible, and more importantly, be constructive (add value to the discussion).

High Templar vs. Ghost

Perhaps these two units are the most talked-about in any TvP discussion, and rightfully so. After all, these two units make or break a battle. Terran argue that storm is overpowered and Protoss argue that Terran should just control their Ghost better. If you compare these two units at face value, it is hard to put one unit above the other. For example, Ghost can attack but High Templar cannot. High Templar can turn into Archon, but Ghost cannot. EMP does not require upgrade, storm does. Storm can kill workers, but EMP cannot. And this list goes on.

Starcraft is not a pokemon-esque battle with unit A vs. unit B. You need to look at the big picture.

In general, High Templar vs. Ghost scenario is inevitable in TvP in a standard macro-oriented game. TaeJa vs. Rain (Game 2) on Whirlwind is a great example of how High Templar vs. Ghost on a big map looks like. Both sides do not dare to make a full engagement because a couple of good EMP or storm can be game ending. This standstill scenario results in small skirmishes between High Templar and Ghost. Ghost will try to snipe High Templar, while High Templar will try to feedback Ghost. Ghost has the upper hand in the “feedback vs. snipe” battle, since snipe has a 10 range while feedback has a 9 range. However, Protoss have the vision advantage with Observers that can neutralise the range disadvantage. Yes, Terran can scan to kill Observer, but that is a reactive measurement. Thus, it is “equal” at best. Furthermore, if you look at TaeJa, he scans randomly in late game (only then you can afford to do so) because it is hard to spot Observers if they are not moving even at the progamer level.

The biggest issue with Ghost vs. High Templar is that Ghost is an initiator only unit. Ghost is always at the front of the Terran army because you need to EMP first before engaging. EMP becomes an initiation for a battle: No decent EMP = No engagement. On the other hand, High Templar can be an initiator and a reactor. Protoss can choose to engage if a good storm lands. More importantly, storm can be used effective during a battle itself. This is quite an important difference. EMP is ineffective inside  a battle itself, because it needs to land on the High Templar before the storms are cast. Therefore, Terran have a more difficult engagement initiation criteria than Protoss. The difference in positioning between High Templar and Ghost also supports the engagement criteria argument. Ghosts are always at the front: looking for opportunity to land EMP to trigger a battle. High Templars are more beneficial at the back. It is not just to hide from EMP, but it sets up for in-battle storm. You do not need to storm before engaging.

stormemp

Another difference is the target of storm and EMP. EMP is more restrictive than storm in terms of targeting. EMP has to land on High Templar to be effective, while storm can be effective on any Terran units as a whole. Of course, from a Protoss perspective, you need to storm the right thing in some situations. There is no point in casting storm on Vikings if all Colossus are dead already. How about using EMP as a form of AOE damage on shield? Well, that is a better than nothing alternative.

As an extension of the two previous points, you can position High Templar independently away from your main army. It is already a profit if you can trade a storm on Terran army with a High Templar. You can choose not to engage after that individual storm. But you cannot sneak an EMP on Protoss army to call it a profit, unless it lands on the High Templar. Even if you do, it is an investment that needs to be turned into tangible profit asap by forcing an engagement.

Big engagement and beyond

Perhaps big TvP engagement is the most spectacular battle of all match ups in Starcraft. The winner of the big engagement is usually the winner of the game. This is usually decided by how well the players micro the units, and in my opinion it is equally difficult for both sides. 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 (stated by Blizzard). With the Hellbat nerf for the sake of TvT, the problem shifts to TvP. Prior the nerf, Terran would transit from Marine to Hellbat. Probably only ForGG still transits to Hellbat and upgrades blue flame.

This problem is tricky. Is it the Warp-in mechanism that causes the problem? If it does, it is basically suggesting that the very basic mechanism of a race is the root of the problem. It is not meaningful to go down that route for discussion. What about Zealots then? Terran’s answer to Zealots is simply sticking to Marine and Marauder now. It is not easy to deal with 10 – 20 Zealots with the same supply count of bio. Although you can clear the Zealots with good kiting, the next wave of Zealots and Archons may be too much to deal with.  As of now, the Hellbat seems to be the most likely solution to the Zealot problem if the transition gap can be solved. It is not just about building more factories. The fact that Hellbat transition requires blue flame upgrade and mech upgrade deters you from doing so. At the same time, you need to upgrade air attack for Vikings to deal with Colossus. Thus, by combining mech and air attack in the next patch could have a significant impact on TvP.

Drop and counter-drop

I will go straight to the point. Terran’s drop and Protoss’ counter drop are great to watch, and I consider it balance in general although map plays a big part. However, I notice that dropping a Protoss, who is on two bases, deals more damage to Terran than Protoss. It seems that the current understanding of drop and counter-drop only allows Terran to drop when Protoss have three bases. However, I am concerned with the other side of the coin: Protoss’s drop and Terran’s counter drop.

Mid to late game Warp Prism harass: Warp in X number of 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 expendable, the Zealots are not in the Warp Prism itself (you can preload Zealots though) 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. More importantly, the execution is relatively 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.

Watch INnoVation vs. Zest.

To be fair, Terran has adapted reasonably well now by patrolling Vikings to anticipate the Warp Prism. I have to admit Warp Prism drop makes the game interesting.

Mothership Core and Photon Overcharge

I don’t even know where to begin with Mothership Core. I will go as far as saying the introduction of Mothership Core is the single most influential change in the Heart of the Swarm expansion. It is like the hero unit of Warcraft III.

photonovercharge

Terran players’ main criticism about the Mothership Core is its Photon Overcharge ability.

Protoss just hide behind Mothership Core and click one button to defend everything.

You cannot deal damage to Protoss in the early and mid game!

Photon Overcharge is designed to aid Protoss in defending. However, is it too strong? I cannot give a simple yes or no answer to it. Should it be adjusted? I welcome change.

My take on Photon Overcharge problem is the window of opportunity for the opponent. As I have mentioned previously, Terran (and even Zerg) forces a Photon Overcharge to prepare for the actual attack subsequently. The window of opportunity indeed exists, but it is small. After forcing a Photon Overcharge, the Mothership Core is gaining energy when the first activation is active. When the subsequent attack happens, the Mothership Core has close to 100 energy. Credit to Protoss, they adapt well by having more units to prevent the Photon Overcharge to be forced out at the first poke timing. Even if the Photon Overcharge is forced, the delay will allow the Mothership Core to have 100 energy for the subsequent attack.

It is hard to make suggestions for Mothership Core because its implication is huge. Generally, people suggest reduce damage, shorten range and increase casting energy. Here is my suggestion,

  • Nerf the current abilities of Mothership Core (e.g., range and duration). Carry Mothership Core effect to Mothership, but make it stronger.

I do not want to give an exact change because a precise change requires a precise justification. This idea came to my mind when I watched GSTL All-Star game yesterday. Like many others, I actually forgot about the existence of Mothership. The intention is to make Protoss less invulnerable in early to mid game, but it still has the defensive aid it needs. The morph from Mothership Core to Mothership should consume energy. Another words, you take the risk of not having the energy to use the ability if you morph to Mothership. But you get rewarded with better abilities if you can leverage the risk. This does not only make it more interesting, it also differentiates the players’ skill. Last but not least, we will get to see Mothership.

Summary

I think Ghost vs. High Templar is pretty equal.

Hopefully the new patch can give Terran an answer to Zealots.

Mothership Core is alright, but there is much room for improvement.

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4 thoughts on “My Take on the Current TvP (Part 2: Qualitative)

  1. Well written once more ;)

    As a top 1000 masters player in EU I can tell you that TvP is by far my worst MU and I see the problem of the MU much more early in the game.
    Just think of the opening. What can Terran open to get safe into a macro game?
    Only a few builds come to mind. 1Rax Expand and 1Rax Reaper Expand are the most common.

    Imo the reaper expand is the safest because you can scout anything and still defend it.
    But now, what has the Terran to prepare for?
    – Protoss can macro up (1 Gate Expand, Nexus first, ….)
    – Protoss can proxy (Oracle prox, VR prox, immo prox, even 3 gate proxy to 4gate is possible,)
    – Protoss has 1/2 base allins (Blinkallin, DTrush or DT expand, collosus allins, the ht allin and much more )
    Btw all these allins are stronger with the MSC. Remember back in the day protoss needed an observer to blink allin. Now the MSC gives vision. It is similair to all the other BOs.

    Terran’s 1/1/1 you can remember from WoL and other allins Protoss had to fear for so long are dead. Not a single build comes to my mind which the MSC cant deal with.

    So Protoss can simply play their game and they do not even have to scout perfectly to be safe, because you cant be wrong with building a MSC.
    There are reasons for the NMSC clan (Nerf mothershipcore) <3

    To sum up, Terran has to scout perfectly and react perfectly in the early stages of the game which protoss does not have to deal with. Furthermore, the later stages of the game favor protoss because they can harras with cheaper units (WP in the article) and can defend easier with cannons because they only have to survive to the lategame, where terran is usually behind.

    As a terran it simply feels like we are playing with our old WoL units against mighty protoss with HotS units (except the speed boost of the medivac).

    Greetz

  2. I just got a chance to read this and the previous post, and overall, great work. It’s really insightful to see multiple lines of argumentation. Sadly, I don’t think I know enough on either topic to really engage with your methods =/

    One question related to part 1: you start with the question about the matchup as a whole, and you end with the question about tournament wins. DId you also check to see if Terrans were winning (statistically) significantly more tournaments than the other races? And if so, did that hold given the distribution in the semis, quarterfinals, etc?

    1. I wasn’t planning to include the “Terran winning tournament” thing at the end. I guess this would make a good post by itself. I shall get the data and think about it. Stay tuned.

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