Opinion on 16 Jan 2019 Community Update

Blizzard just released a controversial community update about their intended balance changes. The community has few positive things to say about it.

Many people pm me about how angry and disappointed they are with the proposed changes. I was not sure if I should make a post about the community update, because my opinion is not pretty and probably not constructive. At the end of the community update, Blizzard stated that they plan to release this update with the new ladder season on 22 January, and they asked for feedback. Being part of the community, I should at least do my part to share my thoughts and hope for improvement.

The good

Nydus Network and Nydus Worm are rarely used, so it makes sense to improve its viability. Nydus is usually used as an all-in in the early mid game, and it is one of the most binary tech options in the game. It either wins the game convincingly or gets shut down completely, so a buff or a nerf may seriously push it to the either extreme. I think Blizzard’s approach to make it a mobile tech option rather than an all-in option has great potential (they tried that in the past), because it tackles the binary problem indirectly. Practically, however, most players are likely to use Zergling run by for mobile harassment. But let’s see how the changes influence players’ decisions.

The Adept change addresses Terran’s inability to expand on low ground, which I cited as one of the forces that pushed Terran to opt for proxy strategies. The problem was clear, but the solution is not. I cannot think of a better solution than this one, so that is well done. The three seconds make a big difference in whether the low ground Command Centre can complete.

The logic behind Oracle’s change is sound. I have little experience with PvP, but the rationale behind this seems comparable to the Mutalisk mirror back in the early days of Heart of the Swarm. You can read more about that here.

The Tempest change falls between good and neutral in my view. It seems like Terran has no counter move to Tempest, because its mobility and range make it extremely difficult to close the distance to even attack it. However, it is a little difficult to evaluate Tempest in TvP, because many seemingly problematic issues occur in the early and mid game. In other words, after the other issues are addressed, our evaluation of Tempest is likely to change. But PartinG indirectly convinced me by demonstrating how to tech quickly to Tempest, and he showed a masterful performance against TY with this strategy (see vod below).

The neutral

I can see why Cyclone’s Mag-field Accelerator upgrade is nerf. But proxy in TvP is not common now, so I don’t think it is a good idea to touch it for that reason. Moreover, once the low ground expansion issue is addressed with the Adept change, we are likely to see even less proxy. Terran players are also moving from battle mech to the old school mech recently in TvZ. The whole TvZ match up evolves very quickly, so it seems they are a little too preemptive with the change.

The Battlecruiser change is not exactly a nerf, but rather it is more of a design consideration. As discussed in my earlier TvZ metagame article, Battlecruiser’s use in the early mid game is contradictory to the design that it is a late game unit. With that being said, Terran players are not using Battlecruiser as much as they did few weeks ago, because it is difficult to justify the heavy investment. Thus, this change makes sense from a design perspective, but it again may be a little too preemptive as the metagame is shifting very quickly in TvZ now.

Robotic Facility and Immortal changes just got me saying, “okay”. It is hard to say whether it is good or bad overall.

The Ultralisk change falls between neutral and bad. I hate it as a Terran player. It sounds ridiculous to me that Ultralisk is faster than Stim bio off creep. While I understand the rationale that Marine and Marauder should not be effective against Ultralisk, this change also directly affects the effectiveness of the intended counter (i.e., Ghost). More importantly, TvZ is in a very good spot, so I find it difficult to agree with such changes.

The bad

It is tough to accept the buff to Blink, Observer, and Warp Gate. Blizzard stated that these changes are targeted at PvZ, having the goal of pushing the Robotics Bay tech path. People who have greater expertise than me in Protoss and Zerg told me that these changes are unlikely to have the positive results Blizzard expected. Stargate tech provides too much value in the early game that it is hard for Robotics Facility to match. Simply making multiple core elements of Protoss stronger does not effectively promote tech options, as there is no incentive to shift away from the Stargate tech that players are so familiar with. Protoss can do the same Stargate builds that Blizzard want to see less of and enjoy the benefits of improved Blink, Observer, and Warp Gate.

What puzzled me the most is how Blizzard implied that these changes are unlikely to affect PvT negatively.  Regarding Warp Gate research buff, they stated that:

In PvT, most offensive options are currently not limited by Warp Gate timing, so we don’t believe this change will have the most significant effect in this matchup.

The importance of upgrades in this game ranges from Warp Gate to Neosteel Frame. You have Warp Gate which is at the core of the entire race on one end, and you have an upgrade that many players probably don’t even know exist on the other end (Neosteel Frame is now combined by building armor upgrade). Yet, Blizzard believe that a change to something so fundamental to a race does not affect a non-mirror match up. Assuming their assessment that most offensive options are currently not limited by Warp Gate timing in PvT is correct, do they seriously think that this alone means decreasing Warp Gate research time by 14 seconds does not have notable impact on the match up?

As they emphasized, these changes are intended to align with the design philosophy that various options should be viable. What is the current dominating Protoss mid game option against Terran? It is mass Gateway units. Now Blizzard want to buff Warp Gate research and Blink? Do Blizzard think these changes are going to push Protoss to use the Robotics tech path against Zerg, but they have at least a non-negative effect on tech viability in PvT?

The argument for the Thor change is comical:

We’ve received feedback that TvP late-game still feels Protoss-favored. We believe that by further pushing the Thor’s anti-Massive role, we can open up other late-game TvP options, such as ranged Liberators and Battlecruisers.

If they think that decreasing a race defining fundamental research by 14 seconds does not influence in PvT, what makes them think that a unit that is not even used in the match up can suddenly become useful by having one additional range? I agree with them that the past informs us that range changes are impactful, but what does an 11 range Thor do against Massive Protoss units? Tempest has 15 range, so it does not matter whether Thor has 10 or 11 range.  (it was highlighted to me that Tempest’s range against ground unit is 10, so Thor has a longer range. This is my mistake.) Do you think Terran would use Thor against Carrier? Viking, Liberator, and even Battlecruiser can do better. Terran bio, mech, and air units have different upgrades, and it is almost impossible for Terran to get mech upgrade to use Thor to counter Protoss Massive units. Not to mention that various Protoss units are effective against Thor.

This is like a politician trying to sell some bullshit arguments to the people. When politicians insult my intelligence thinking that I am unable to critically think about their arguments, I response with my vote. This is the first time I get angry at Blizzard’s proposed balance changes. While I do not always agree with the changes and arguments made by Blizzard, I always show my appreciation for their thoughts. I often find their proposals reasonable, constructive, and intellectually stimulating. This time round I feel they are insulting my intellectual ability. This is humiliating. I cannot response with my vote, but I can response with my money, play time, and word-of-mouth. I assure you I am not the only one feeling insulted.


After reading the Reddit thread, Twitter response, and pm, it is clear that I need to clarify. Most respondents appear to have missed the point. Many hold a presumption that, I play Terran, so this post is about TvP balance. As always, I do not emphasize on the actual changes per se, rather, I focus on the arguments behind the changes. You can read about my systematic train of thoughts regarding balance changes here, where I advocate the logic that the changes proposed should stem from a coherent argument of how the solutions address the identified problems without being inconsistent with the original goals. Put it in another way, it is the way Blizzard communicate their rationale behind the changes, and not the changes per se, that rubbed me the wrong way.

Apparently the underlying emphasis is not as obvious as I thought. For the changes to Blink, Observer, and Warp Gate, I highlighted how the changes do not align with the goal to encourage Protoss to use Robotics tech over Stargate tech. This is because there is nothing to discourage Stargate builds, and Protoss can keep doing the same thing and enjoy the buffs. Then, I apply their arguments to promote diversity in options in PvZ to PvT to suggest these changes are doing the opposite of what they intend to achieve. These Protoss changes are making the dominating Protoss strategies better, and hence, it goes against the design philosophy of promoting diversity in strategies and giving players options.

It seems to me that people’s attention is drawn to the tone of my last paragraph. Again, I stated that it is the “bullshit argument” that I am displeased. The fact that people on reddit talk so much about Protoss receiving buff and Terran didn’t shows they miss the point. I never argued these changes affect the balance of PvT. If you want to debate about my views regarding PvT balance, you should reference the other recent article I wrote where I actually discuss balance.

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7 thoughts on “Opinion on 16 Jan 2019 Community Update

    1. Agree, while I like this place a lot, mainly as a good source for sound builds and interesting thoughts, I don’t really see all this changes in the same way. I would even say that I don’t care about balance in my games almost at all (I could elaborate – but short reason is that I would have fun in any case, since mmr is not that important to me). It would be boring to see static meta in pro games so I welcome all changes that shift it. Game as it is already has a lot of gimmicky bullshit such as wall-offs and hold positions units in PvZ which everyone thinks is fine, who cares, players have long ago adapted accordingly to early game rush options.

  1. Anyone who disagrees with this post is probably a Protoss player. I agree with everything stated here, Protoss already occupies almost 40% of GM which means they are performing well. Why would blizzard push these buffs to Protoss offensive option as if Protoss didn’t already have enough offensive options? Terrans struggle to get past early game (which blizzard acknowledged), so Blizzard decides to buff Protoss’s early game option more?

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