David Kim made a post on 1 July 2014 and showed intention to buff Terran, which had been suggested to be underpowered by the community. There have been some spirited discussions about the suggested changes, and I will share my thoughts on it.
We’ve listened to recent feedback and wanted to provide our thoughts on HotS balance since the last patch.
1. At the top pro level, Terran looks to be slightly weaker than the other races, and we’d like to start testing possible changes.
2. In terms of recent tournament wins, the three races are performing quite evenly.
3. Protoss and Zerg both seem to be performing well at the top level in terms of tournament wins and overall performance.
We’d like to be prepared with a general Terran buff while continuing to carefully evaluate Terran performance in both TvP and TvZ. We have some ideas for general Terran buffs that we’d love to get feedback on. Additionally, we’d love to hear feedback on other areas that could help Terran while also making the games more exciting to watch and play.
Medivac harass has been getting weaker since the beginning of HotS due to players improving at defending against them. If we increase the strength of Medivacs, we’d not only help out Terran on both matchups, but also help provide even more action-packed games to watch. We wonder if buffing the unload speed or increasing the duration of the speed boost slightly would help in a positive way.
Widow Mines are quite core in both TvP and TvZ. They’re also one of the most exciting units to watch and create lots of diverse moments depending on the players’ interaction with them within each engagement. We’re currently considering a slight increase to the splash radius of Widow Mines, which we believe could be a good direction to explore.
Obviously, nothing is final since we aren’t even proposing specific numbers yet, but we’d like to start discussions going that would allow us to start a balance test map soon.
The current state of Terran
Previously, I have been careful with my words when I suggested that Terran is relatively weaker than the other two races. Since there has been a consensus on this issue now, I should be more direct with my words. TheDwf wrote a [very] long article on the current state of Terran and how it has been shaped into the contemporary state through time. Although the tone of the piece may have been more controversial than necessary, I agree with majority of the content. Sure, the examples may have been picked specifically to highlight his point of view, but you cannot help but to admire how comprehensive it is. The statistics certainly helps to reinforce the argument that Terran is indeed the weakest race. With that being said, it is important to note that it is normal to have a weaker race at any time, since the metagame has been constantly evolving. However, the problem with the current state of Terran is that it is a persisting one.
The recent Hellbat patch is only a month old, and we are already discussing about the next Terran buff. Despite the patch seems to bring a sand bit of hope to the Terran, the effectiveness of the various Hellbat openings did not last. The Hellbat builds are already being discarded by the top Terrans in the recent WCS games.
Essentially, it is back to square one for the Terran.
To be fair, I think the Widow Mine patch for TvP was pretty well done. I have already discussed why I think this change was innovative, so I won’t go into details here. The new map pool helped to minimise the problem with Blink Stalkers too. But the results of TvP do not seem to show that Terran is close to even against Protoss. There is a consensus in the community, that the problem is with the combination of the relatively weak late game for Terran and the ability to drag the late game for the Protoss. Progamers like INnoVation and Bomber have also voiced their concern recently.
The implication of this plausible patch
Quote from Day9: Blizzard almost always follows the test map changes suggestions. In another words, we can expect Medivac and Widow Mine to be buffed.
I am not very fond of Medivac unload speed buff, as things may go off the chart in the hands of the top players. Speed boost duration seems doable. I have a mixed feeling towards the Widow Mine change. To begin with, I am not a fan of the Widow Mine nerf previously. Buffing the Widow Mine now is as good as saying that that earlier change might not have been a good idea.
All in all, Blizzard’s intention is clear. Keep the current state of the game as similar as possible without radical changes, and help Terran to close the gap with minor buffs. The fact that David Kim emphasized on the general buff for Terran through the commonly used units for both match ups, it is indirectly admitting that Terran is inferior against both Zerg and Protoss.
The community’s critique
The key take away can be summarized by ibleeedorange’s comment,
I think one of the main problems with terran is that they stay on basically the same composition for the entire game, from start to end. Toss and zerg each transition at least a little bit, or have the option to.
I can understand where this criticism comes from. Terran is forced to be aggressive because there are no late game units to fall back on (sound familiar?). This does not only restrict Terran’s options, but also how other races play out against Terran. However, although I agree with the statement, I do not think that it can be fixed (or at least not until Legacy of the Void).
The reason is simple. Terran’s design allows it to tech up much easier than other races. 1-1-1 and bang! Tier 3 units are accessible. If Terran has a strong enough late game unit like other races, then we may see a “carrier rush” strategy from Terran (with repair). There is no easy fix.
The community has been screaming for Legacy of the Void as the solution to the problems. I am a strong believer that Starcraft belongs to a category that quality and thoughtful designs outweigh everything. I do not mind waiting longer for the next expansion if it means that it is a big step forward. If Blizzard pushes out the next expansion hastily, we will experience other problems. Then, we will call for changes, and it is a cycle that no one wins.
For now, I can accept the direction that Blizzard is going with this: Try to make minor fixes to help balance things here and there, while the emphasis is placed on the Legacy of the Void development. More importantly, Blizzard needs to communicate its direction and plans clearly to the community.