Community Update - July 1, 2019


#1

Hey everyone,

Over the past few months, we’ve been tracking tournament results and following discussions around the TvP and ZvP matchups and the strength of Protoss in general. What we’ve seen from tournaments tells a somewhat mixed story—overall global tournament winrates have remained close, with Protoss even arguably underperforming in the WCS circuit. At the same time, however, the most recent offline Korean leagues have seen unusually high Protoss representation.

While the results might paint a picture of Protoss strength, we don’t believe they tell the whole story. Rather, what we find more concerning and what we are focusing on for our next update is how players view and talk about the Protoss matchups. In both TvP and ZvP, discussions seem to boil down to how binary either matchup feels. In TvP, while Tank timing-pushes feel strong, Terrans say they feel disadvantaged as the game progresses. In ZvP, while Zerg players struggle with scouting and responding to Protoss’ various openings, professional-level Protoss players often give feedback that they’re the ones who are disadvantaged in the late game.

As a general rule, we believe that it’s perfectly healthy and even desirable that certain races have advantages over others at different stages of the game. (In a designer’s ideal world, all races would have different types of advantages at all stages; e.g., direct army strength vs. harass potential.) The concern in the current metagame comes when players feel like there is a clearly identifiable point early in the game when the advantage swaps from one race to the other, and the race that perceives themselves at the disadvantage feels they have insufficient options to disrupt this outcome.

With these principles in mind, we’d like to test some changes on the testing tab to gather feedback for an upcoming balance update. This time, we’ll be trying something new as we plan to release two sets of changes for testing. We believe both sets could result in positive improvements, but as they alter different aspects of the game, we’re interested in your feedback before we determine what the best options are. The first (and more experimental) set of test changes will be available tomorrow, and the second set of changes will be available for testing on the week of July 15th.

Terran

  • Stimpack upgrade research duration decreased from 121 to 100 seconds.

In early Wings of Liberty, we increased the research duration of the Stimpack upgrade in order to temper the strength of 3-rax openers in TvP, which at the time was difficult for Protoss players to defend against, especially at lower levels. Fast forward to today, where the addition of Adepts and Shield Batteries, along with changes to Stalkers and starting economy, have drastically altered the build’s dynamics. That said, a common complaint in TvP is Terran’s difficulty in punishing a fast Protoss third, and we believe a revert to this change could help to address it by:

  • Creating new openers that Protoss will have to account for.
  • Allowing Terran to more seamlessly transition from tech-based openings to a Bio-based mid-game.
  • And perhaps most importantly: reducing the window in which the upgrade can be sniped.

Our concerns surrounding this change revolve around overly increasing the power of 2-base Tank all-ins in TvP as a side-effect, and overly impacting TvZ, partly by effectively speeding up the timing at which Combat Shields comes online.

  • New upgrade: Enhanced Shockwaves: Increases the radius of the Ghost’s EMP Round from 1.5 to 2. Cost: 150/150. Research time: 79 seconds.

We receive a lot of feedback on why TvP is perceived to favor Protoss in the late game, and a constant throughout is the raw direct strength of the late-game Protoss army. We believe the proposed change will not only help Terran in direct engagements, but also shift the age-old zoning relationship between Ghosts and Templar a bit more in the Ghost’s favor.

Our decision to try this change out as an upgrade instead of a baked-in improvement stems from not wanting to impact the strength of 3-base Terran all-ins in TvP or Templar-based mid games. Even as an upgrade, we’ll be monitoring the effects of this change closely, as it would also impact TvZ, a matchup where Ghosts are already perceived to be a very powerful late-game unit.

Zerg

  • Infested Terran Infested Rockets damage decreased from 14 to 12.

The feedback we’ve received surrounding Zerg’s perceived late-game advantage in ZvP centers a lot around Infested Terrans and their ability to fight Interceptors. As part of patch 4.0, we gave Infested Terrans a more powerful anti-air weapon precisely for this purpose, but after the Carrier changes last year, we’d like to adjust the power of the Infested Terran accordingly. After this change, it’ll take an additional shot for Infested Terrans to kill Interceptors at most upgrade levels.

Protoss

  • Carrier Interceptor build time decreased from 11 seconds to 9 seconds.

For similar reasons as above, we’d like to scale back the increase to the Interceptor’s build time from last year’s post-BlizzCon patch. Combined with the Infested Terran change, we’ll keep an eye how much the needle will move in terms of Protoss’s ability to fight Zerg in the late game.

  • Nexus Strategic Recall cooldown increased from 85 to 130 seconds.

While it’s cool that Protoss can utilize Strategic Recall to reposition their armies between their bases, we believe they can currently do so too frequently. This change is intended to more punish Protoss players who are consistently out of position against multi-pronged harass.

  • Warp Prisms no longer start with the Warp Conduit passive ability and warp-ins will take 11 seconds when not near a Warp Gate or Nexus, up from 4.
  • The Gravitic Drive upgrade now has the additional functionality of granting Warp Prisms the Warp Conduit passive ability, reducing warp-in time from 11 to 4.

Currently, the discourse surrounding ZvP seems to center primarily around the number of powerful early-game Protoss openings. Not only does Protoss have a high number of tech options, they also have many of variations of Immortal all-ins that require different responses. Though we believe all these attacks to be theoretically defendable, the margin of error for the defender might be too low.

There are a few ways to address this, such as improving Zerg early-game scouting or weakening some of Protoss’ early-game options. For the first iteration of the testing tab, however, we’d like to try a more experimental change intended to reinforce the concept of defender’s advantage in all Protoss matchups.

Defender’s advantage is a tricky thing to balance in an RTS, as shifting it too much in favor of the attacker creates overly aggressive games. Meanwhile, shifting it too much in favor of the defender results in more turtle situations. Currently, we believe PvZ is in a state where defender’s advantage is not sufficient for the Zerg player in the early game, when scouting can often be limited to a Zergling running into the Protoss army exiting their base. Because of the short response time and Protoss’ fast warp-in mechanic, the sum of Zerg’s defender’s advantages at that point may not be enough.

Another example of low defender’s advantage is the PvP matchup where both sides to have access to similar reinforcement time with Gateway units. While the defender has better access to Stargate and Robotics unit reinforcements, Gateway units have become more powerful over time and thus better equipped to deal with low numbers of high-tech units. We feel this can inhibit players from feeling safe enough to invest in establishing more bases over more units. With these changes, we believe games are more likely to pass the 3-base mark and Robotics Bay-based play could become more common.

For all these perceived benefits, we acknowledge that this is one of the riskiest mid-year changes we’ve ever proposed. First and foremost, we’re concerned that this change might be too heavy-handed and would overly neuter Protoss all-ins. And while this change more directly and obviously hurts Protoss all-ins, it also weakens macro play both by reducing the threat of potential attacks and reducing the strength of warp-in harass. In PvT in particular, we also have concerns that this change could further push Protoss towards the already very popular Robotics Bay openers.

All these concerns notwithstanding, even if this change does not make the final cut, we think there is value in spurring discussion within the community. We look forwarding in hearing what you have to say not only about this change, but about the entire package proposed today.

–StarCraft II Team


Excellent work on the following balance changes in batch #1
Protoss have been babied by overpowered defensive mechanics
Protoss have been babied by overpowered defensive mechanics
pinned #2

#3

Terran’s blessed day


#4

So the whining Terrans got their way and nerfed the Warp Prism instead of building missile turrets/Cyclones/Vikings.


#5

Honestly I think these are great changes , good job balance team.


#6

Blizzard Balance Team back from their 6 month vacation I see.


#7

Were you sleeping all this time ???
Give terran a real late game vs Toss PLZ

A EMP buff wont change anything, why not let the warp prism warp in 11 sec ?
What about nydus ??? its Broken !!!


#8

Still ignoring the highest win rate strategy in the game, cannon rushing, while finding a way to nerf other Toss things. No one is leaving the game because Toss can recall every 85 seconds. Meanwhile, lots of people leave due to cannon rushing.

Zerg late game is so imbalanced, but it’s cute to act like a small infestor nerf might solve it. Like a drop of water is all that is needed to fill an empty ocean.

When every other race is so much more mobile than Toss and can attack them at every base, at the same time… yeah… they’re going to be out of position a lot, since it’s impossible to be in every spot at once, as Toss.


#9

Stim is a vital upgrade for bio, but it’s also an extremely powerful upgrade. SC2 has had stim at this research time for many years and so many timings related to stim pushes or stopping stim pushes revolve around the 121 research time even after all the changes and additions.

Remember how changing the cost of Blink lead to some really broken blink stalker plays in TvP?.

This research time change of Stim is going to create some really broken pushes in TvP, especially with the power of 2 base tank all-ins sweeping the current meta.

Protoss already got a upgrade research time nerf, this means that stim pushes run the risk of hitting the Protoss before they can even get any forge upgrades to help defend against the push.

Faster stim in TvT might make bio players really strong, since blue flame for hellions was nerfed from +10 to +5 all those years ago. In TvZ, some really strong marine-tank pushes could emerge and we all know that split micro against early numbers of banes could be problematic, also how the Lurker Den has the longest build times of any zerg structure so you couldn’t get some out as a response.

So be very very careful with this Stim change.

Really like this addition. It will help both Bio and Mech players in TvP against late game protoss armies, and both Bio and Mech players in ZvT against large numbers of Zerg casters

The problem with infested terrans is the energy cost. For 200 energy you can get 8 of them, infested terrans only cost 25 energy. Now multiply that by how many infestors you have and you might as well be playing the new Co-op commander.

Auto-turrets on the Raven cost 50 energy and are much harder to spam and take up a bigger surface area.

Great change, Interceptor build time was needed to be longer but it felt like it was a little too long which left carriers sometimes being flying paperweights.

Good change.

This will be interesting to test. But it’s not the warp speed of the warp prism that is the problem.

It’s a pick up range of 6, which allows the warp prism to never be at risk and just sit behind the protoss units picking them up.

Also deployed warp prisms should not be able to load units and pick up units. There needs to be a trade off for putting the warp prism in deployed mode instead of being able to have your cake and eat it too from a unit design perspective.


#10

I second this. I would also like a nerf to Void Rays.


#11

Well because you’d rather just build a pylon then ?


#12

Overall I liked the direction where the patch is heading. Most complaints of the community and pros have been heard and it is all very toroughly explained by the balance team. Still, IMO one of the biggest issues of TvP late game is the range of the Tempest being 15. It’s way too much for Terrans to deal with.


#13

Do you build photon cannons around the edges of your base to defend medivacs? if not you can redact your comment.


#14

I’m 100% willing to test these out, but here’s my initial feedback.

Stim: i share the concerns about TvZ and the strength of stim pushes. The other concern I have is in TvP once you get stim and combat shield online it really becomes how much splash does protoss have. I just watch Pvz as I play zerg, but sometimes it’s a bit stale to just look and say, “oops protoss doesn’t have enough splash out terran has a huge advantage.” Also, it feels like whenever terrans get a buff it doesn’t actually fix issues people have. It just changes the time frame of an attack. This goes back to the upgrade time changes for protoss, it didn’t fix the issue that people have with the matchup, it just made the window for doing their big attack a bit bigger. It feels the same with the stim. It doesn’t actually address the concerns people have it just allows them to do their big attack and try and kill protoss faster. I also feel like terran has had the most diverse openings since the very beginning so adding another one on isn’t all that appealing. I’d like to see some upgrade or change to the reaper to let it do something outside of the first 5 minutes of the game.

Ghost: Sure that’s fine. It’s not huge but it’s a slight buff.

Infested Terrans: Let me preface this by saying I’ve alwasy hated infested terrans, It’s been a hit or miss spell. it’s either really strong or really weak, and should be replaced. But it’s one of the few ways for zerg to deal with end game mass air especially carriers. Parasitic bomb is great vs terran, but not so much vs protoss because of shields or capital ships. Corruptors are basically a giant sledge hammer that you either have too much and win or you get stormed/carried/void rayed to death and lose. So That leaves the infestor and it’s spells to deal with things. You’re nerfing infested terrans while also buffing the unit it kind of counters in the carrier. I think that’s a bad combo. Carriers are super annoying to deal with because zerg doesn’t have cheap AA units like marines and splash from thors. I worry about these. Zerg really needs better Ground to air abilities that aren’t just spawn free units because everyone really hates free units.

Carrier
-Carriers are already annoying to deal with and super hard to beat once you get enough out. Not a fan of this change. This is partly because zerg ways to deal with it are crappy. There’s not to be a better way. This could work, but I think zerg especially needs a better way to deal with carriers and their interceptors.

Recall: I think 130 is a bit too long. Especially since it’s one use. Maybe instead of increasing the time, you shrink the radius? Make it more strategic…you have to be strategic about which part of your army you can recall. The main problem I have with this is protoss is designed to really be a huge death ball. It has 3 forms of anti ground splash because it really needs that to survive in the late game. So I’m not a huge fan of punishing protoss form being out of position for multi pronged attacked when their whole army is kind of designed to be together. It’s gotten better, but I never have had issues with the cooldown. I think it can hurt the protoss some too because you recall to the main but then your third gets hit. So there are ways to play this to your advantage. I feel like there are bigger fish to fry in the game than nexus recall.

Warp prism: While yes, this will help and is probably a good change. I think there also needs to be a decrease in the pick uprange. Then roll that range into the upgrade. So the upgrade grants speed, decreases warp in time, and adds in like +2 pick up range. That is the most frustrating thing watching immortals or archons get juggle from complete safetly while they kill off your units. Priority should be the pick up range.

Thanks for this. Glad to see these changes being tested. Also, I like the term. Mid year patch because it gives me hope that you are doing another end of year patch. There are still some units that need some love, and, shameless self promotion, I’ve been posting some ideas on how to approach them. I look forward to testing these, and hope that you’ll be willing to modify these changes or add new ones based on the feedback.


#16

Wowza those Prisim changes. I definitely have mixed feelings but look forward to testing it.


#17

Why not add EMP Upgrade to Cloak Research for an additional 50M/G to make it an even upgrade?

:boom::boom::boom:


#18

I have no opinions about the current proposed changes to be tested. I instead worry about the way the balance team is going about testing possible changes. There will be another set of proposed changes to be tested next week? Not a fan of this and I have a feeling the end result after all is said & done will be of poor quality. We will found out in a couple weeks :expressionless:


#19

Yes, and we add shield batteries and units to defend. You know, like everyone does but terran ?


#20

Lol 2 base stim all in. Protoss will be forced to use ONLY cannons vs terrans GG


#21

I completely agree! Blizzard just keeps adding upgrades to terran that we have more upgrades than anyone. Why not just combine this upgrade to make it more efficient. Stop giving Terrans more upgrades. I highly doubt a combined cloak EMP range upgrade timing is really going to break TvP