By Kevin “qxc” Riley of Complexity Gaming
Very recently, the developers at Blizzard released a significant update on their progress with Legacy of the Void. Below, I’ve included the most notable parts and my thoughts as a Terran progamer on what these changes mean for StarCraft’s future. You can read the blog in its entirety here: http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/blog/16860232.
Half of the mineral patches have 1500 (same as HotS), and the other half has 750.
Gas is at 75% of total.
Players are still encouraged to move out and take bases aggressively.
There are still reasons to harass most of the bases since they remain operational at half efficiency.
Macro on bases and transferring workers throughout the game becomes more meaningful and more rewarding to players who do this better.
After some number of games of LoTV, I felt like Terran had a significant advantage over the other races because we were more easily able to use a ‘slash n burn’ type of strategy where you only make 2-3 CC’s over the entire game and constantly lift them to new bases as the old ones mined out. This worked particularly well for terran because gas is not very important to most compositions so as soon as the minerals were gone the value of the base decreased drastically. Keeping half of the base alive for longer helps even this out and create more points of weakness. Generally it seems like the economy of each player will be much more spread out than in HoTS or in the previous version (where every patch had 750 minerals) which should help further alleviate the deathball blues that HoTS has been suffering.
Locate units that are used in the game that could potentially bring an impactful change at a much later stage of the game.
Don’t add upgrades on for late-game units.
This change is really nice because it shows that the developers have done a lot of thinking about the game and what doesn’t quite make sense. They cite carriers and ultralisks as examples of late game units that you don’t really ever use without their upgrades. This will create a smoother transition into some of the late game units while also opening the doors for late game upgrades for early game units (I’m thinking specifically of the reaper here).
We’re also considering splitting-up mech and air upgrades once again for Legacy of the Void.
We’ve already started to see a lot more mech in TvZ, and in TvT it’s always been a thing that people do. If the upgrades were split, we may see less mech in general as the compensation in free banshee cloak, cyclones, and potentially late game banshee/bc may not be enough to offset it. This is a hard one to judge without seeing how the different compositions play out.
The main things we didn’t like about the HERC were:
Too much overlap with Hellbats
Grapple ability isn’t really needed for the unit to function well.
Tech level changed to Armory requirement
No longer deals splash damage
No longer effective for cost
Grapple is to target ground
When landing from grapple, knocks enemy units in that area back
In the BlizzCon version, the herc basically felt like a bio hellbat with a gimmick. I’m glad that the developers also recognized the overlap and are seeking to make the unit much more unique. The idea of a knockback is pretty interesting and opens up a lot of micro opportunities and synergies with ranged units (perhaps even as an addition to mech armies). Regardless, the direction the herc is taking is a good one, and only time will tell exactly what void it will fill in the Terran army.
Banshee attack range decreased back to 6
A pretty predictable reversion. I wouldn’t be surprised if cloak was also reverted to no longer be free. Banshees basically dominated TvT and TvZ openings due to their greater strength and cheaper cost.
Cyclone ability is autocast, and the unit is rebalanced accordingly
The cyclone ability can be turned off from autocast so this appears to be a nice balance between the casual and more hardcore audience. There’s little point in adding a unit to the game if only the top small percentage of players can actually use it effectively. This will also create greater incentives for players to make a larger number of cyclones (something that felt very unwieldy when you had to manually cast the ability for each one).
Lurker siege range upgrade no longer has a Hive requirement
The lurker seems to be a way to force siege tanks out of terran as bio has an incredibly hard time approaching the unit, but only with the range upgrade. At six range, marauders were able to do reasonably well against low numbers of lurkers. This seems like a nice potential tech path to give zerg more options on lair. As it is now, mutalisks don’t really have a lair transition besides the rare addition of infestors so this should help create a bit more variety in play and strategies.
Infestor ability removal + add?
The infestor has been in a strange place for a long time as it had one incredibly strong ability (fungal) and two more ‘support’ kind of abilities that were dominant at various points in StarCraft’s history before being nerfed. Most recently, neural parasite has seen almost no play so finding a final spell for the infestor is a nice way to round out the unit. I’m glad that they’re re-looking at the newest ability for the infestor (+flat damage to ground units) as it appeared to have a relatively small amount of synergy (mostly with zerglings) and did not create very interesting plays. You buff zerglings and they kill things faster is not a super interesting ability.
Zerg AA vs. mass air strategies
We’re currently trying out an ability on the Viper to help deal with large numbers of air units (but not small numbers of them). This new ability deals an AoE dot to enemy air units. If only a few air units are in play, it’ll be easy for the opponent to micro against this ability, whereas when the air unit count gets really high, dealing with this ability will be exponentially more difficult.
Zerg has long had a tremendous amount of trouble dealing with sky compositions from both protoss and zerg. Without a capital ship to rival the tempest/battlecruiser or massive splash damage offered by spells like seeker missles, they’ve had to resort to what is often a bit of a gimmick in the ‘money fungal’. If the opposition gets sloppy and lets a majority of their units get fungaled, zerg can easily win the fight, but against a well spread out army it becomes incredibly difficult. This change is a good one in that Blizzard is in tune with one of zerg’s major long standing problems and is trying to add options that don’t just “hard counter” the strategy but rather offer play and counterplay.
New Protoss Unit
We’re currently exploring a very different type of harassing unit. We don’t yet have the specific details yet but these are the things we’re thinking right now:
Early game unit
Slow movement speed (to differentiate from other early game harassers)
Phase shift ability. Unit goes completely invulnerable for X seconds on a short cooldown (to be able to move in and harass and to get out in a different way compared to say like Blink harass)
Doesn’t counter core units for cost (idea of having a core unit that goes invulnerable just sounds like it would be too much. Plus with this effective ability, this unit could still be a great harasser even if it’s not effective for cost).
Protoss could definitely use some sort of ground-based harrassment unit besides stalkers (and later blink stalkers). Dark templar serve this role in some regard, but as they are quite expensive and hard to reach, they are only really used for very specific builds early on, or for late game when a significant bank has accumulated. Giving protoss a unique harrassment unit that can actually control space may be exactly what the race needs. I like the direction this is taking as the ideas definitely set this unit apart from other harrassment units but without actual gameplay or concrete numbers/ideas it’s hard to say for sure how successful it will be.
Mothership Core’s Photon Overcharge ability now hits both ground and air again.
Because of the resource changes we’re currently testing, Protoss is most impacted as they’re the ones that struggle the most with taking additional bases. We felt this nerf was no longer needed because to this.
Photon overcharge has always been one of my most disliked additions to HoTS. Their reasoning here seems sound, as the majority of protoss styles do not offer sufficient mobility to secure bases at the same rate as their opponents, but I’d really like to see the mothership core’s focus turned away from the ‘1 click defense’.
Immortal Barrier ability is an upgrade
The Barrier ability combined with the new ranged pick up from Warp Prisms has been too difficult to defend against without having air units. We’re currently testing having the ability as an upgrade. We may need to make tweaks to improve the ability if needed, but this is something we’ll look at going forward.
I haven’t personally experienced immortal warp prism drops in my games so I’ll have to take their word for this one. The balance of power and timing is always one of the most difficult things to figure out as anyone who played early HoTS can remember the various times hellbats were modified, not as much in their damage, but in when they could actually be produced so that the unit was more ‘in line’ with other units that were available at the same time.
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