Balance Update - May 19, 2020Blizzard Entertainment|20 May 2020

Greetings StarCraft fans,

Last month, we put together our thoughts on the current state of the game and proposed some changes we’ve been considering for the next balance patch. In addition, we tried something a bit different and sponsored WardiTV’s Balance Test Mod Invitational to help gather additional feedback and observe the proposed changes in a professional setting. Today, we’d like to share which changes will make it to live in a future patch, which was based both on your feedback and what we saw from the BTM Invitational. Specifically, we’ll address the two major pieces of feedback we’ve received regarding the patch, which includes:

  • For each individual Zerg change, how much ZvT would be impacted relative to the targeted matchup of ZvP.
  • The usability and effectiveness of the new Battery Overcharge ability.

Let’s go over a few key changes and whether we’ll be keeping them as is or making alterations.

Queens

Previously Proposed Change:

  • Anti-air weapon range decreased from 8 to 7.

After watching tournament games, we don’t have strong concerns surrounding this change, and we don’t have strong reason to believe that it would drastically impact ZvT more than ZvP. Our initial concerns surrounding the Battlecruiser vs. Queen interaction were assuaged as while there were very few Battlecruiser openings from Terrans in the tournament, they were all defended about as soundly as before. In addition, we’ve received feedback that the Queen range change is more impactful versus Banshees and Liberators than versus Battlecruisers. On the Protoss side, Oracles escaped from Queens with 1HP remaining on multiple occasions.

Creep Tumors

Previously Proposed Changes:

  • “Armored” attribute removed.
  • “Light” attribute added.

While we were initially skeptical of how this change would impact ZvT relative to ZvP, we feel comfortable going forward with the change after reviewing the tournament games. Very few additional Tumors were killed by Hellions as a result of the change, which we believe is because Hellions fall off pretty quickly in a typical bio-based ZvT, and top-level Zerg players have gotten pretty good at protecting Creep Tumors in early game. Meanwhile, we saw multiple instances of attempted Tumor assassinations from Protoss players that wouldn’t have occurred in the past.

Baneling

Previously Proposed Changes:

  • Centrifugal Hooks no longer grants Banelings +5 HP.
  • Centrifugal Hooks cost decreased from 150/150 to 100/100.

We agree with feedback that the previously proposed Baneling changes would impact ZvT greater than ZvP and, as such, we won’t be moving forward with these changes. However, we still want to make some adjustment to Banelings for ZvP. When we asked for further feedback about the difficulty of late game PvZ, the responses generally did not involve specific unit interactions in late game (apart from Feedback vs. Abduct). Rather, many responses focused on the generally favorable positions Zerg players could enter late game with. Notable examples included unfettered creep spread, high drone counts, and the ease of defending pushes. As Banelings are generally the core unit Zerg players use to defend pre-Hive Protoss timings, we believe targeting the combat effectiveness of Banelings would force Zerg players to transition to late game less greedily.

New Change:

  • Baneling weapon damage changed from 20 (+15 vs light) to 18 (+17 vs light).

This new change should impact PvZ more so than TvZ as a much greater proportion of the typical mid game Protoss army is non-light compared to the typical mid game Terran bio army. After this change, smaller non-light units such as Marauders, Roaches, Stalkers, and Siege Tanks will generally take one additional hit from Banelings while beefier units such as Thor, Archons, and Immortals will generally take more.

Oracles

Previously Proposed Changes:

  • Revelation energy cost decreased from 50 to 25.
  • Revelation cooldown increased from 2 seconds to 10 seconds.
  • Revelation duration decreased from 30 seconds to 15 seconds.

Of all the proposed changes, we were most pleasantly surprised by how much this was utilized with almost every Protoss player employing it to some degree of effectiveness in PvZ. We were also surprised by the uptick in mid game usage simply to check up on opponents’ armies and are excited to see how future Oracle usage will evolve.

Battery Overcharge

Previously Proposed Changes:

  • New ability: “Battery Overcharge”
    • Effect: Overcharges a target Shield Battery, increasing its shield restoration rate by 100% and causing it to regenerate 100 energy over 21 seconds.
    • Cost: 75 Energy
    • Cooldown: 0 seconds
    • Range: 8

New Changes:

  • New ability: “Battery Overcharge”
    • Effect: Overcharges a target Shield Battery near a Nexus, increasing its shield restoration rate by 100% and allowing it to restore shields without consuming energy for 14 seconds.
    • Cost: 50 Energy
    • Cooldown: 60 seconds (shared by all Nexuses)
    • Range: Unlimited (the target Battery must be within range 8 of any friendly Nexus)

Our initial iteration of Battery Overcharge had some usability concerns stemming from the fact that Nexuses could only Overcharge Batteries adjacent to themselves, but not other Nexuses globally. The initial restriction was put in place due to a concern of the ability being too powerful in late game when all your Nexuses could be used to Overcharge a single large cluster of Shield Batteries. However, we realize the awkwardness of this implementation and ideally would not want to drastically alter how players utilize Chrono Boost. Therefore, we’ll be removing this restriction and instead address our concerns by placing a global cooldown on the ability a la Strategic Recall.

Next, while we’ve received feedback that the ability is effective at encouraging macro play past three bases (as evidenced by the large number of 4+ base PvPs in the BTM tournament), we believe it’s not effective enough at defending against proxy Immortal builds for two reasons. First, the ability would not be ready for the initial standard 4-Stalker 1-Immortal poke at its typical timing. Additionally, we believe there’s still a bit too much energy tension on your two initial Nexuses as we expect both Chrono Boost and Battery Overcharge usage to be key in defending Proxy Robotics builds. While the changes described in the last paragraph partially alleviate our concerns, we’d like to go even further by reducing the energy cost of the ability, which we feel comfortable with due to the ability’s newly introduced global cooldown.

Finally, we’d like to address another oddity with the ability. In the previous iteration, players were encouraged to Overcharge Batteries with near-full energy to receive the greatest benefits. We felt this could induce decision paralysis on the part of the player and promote somewhat undesirable behaviors, such as turning Batteries on and off autocast. In order to address this, we’ve redesigned the ability to be agnostic of the current energy of the targeted Battery and reduced its duration to maintain a somewhat similar power level with slightly different strengths and weaknesses.

Conclusion

By the time this blog goes up, these changes will have been updated on the Balance Test Mod for players to practice on. Barring bug fixes, these will be the final changes reflected in the next balance patch, which is currently scheduled to be released in early June, after the finals of a few major tournaments.

Below is the complete list of changes:


Terran

Widow Mine

  • Drilling Claws upgrade no longer grants Widow Mines invisibility. Instead, the existence of an Armory will grant Widow Mines invisibility.
  • The red laser attachment for Widow Mines will now communicate the existence of an Armory instead of the existence of the Drilling Claws upgrade.

Zerg

Queen

  • Anti-air weapon range decreased from 8 to 7.

Baneling

  • Weapon damage changed from 20 (+15 vs light) to 18 (+17 vs light).

Infestor

  • Microbial Shroud no longer requires an upgrade.

Creep Tumor

  • “Armored” attribute removed.
  • “Light” attribute added.

Protoss

Nexus

  • New ability: “Battery Overcharge”
    • Effect: Overcharges a target Shield Battery near a Nexus, increasing its shield restoration rate by 100% and allowing it to restore shields without consuming energy for 14 seconds.
    • Cost: 50 Energy
    • Cooldown: 60 seconds (shared by all Nexuses)
    • Range: Unlimited (the target Battery must be within range 8 of any friendly Nexus)

Oracle

  • Revelation energy cost decreased from 50 to 25.
  • Revelation cooldown increased from 2 seconds to 10 seconds.
  • Revelation duration decreased from 30 seconds to 15 seconds.

High Templar

  • Feedback range increased from 9 to 10.