Last year we released Patch 3.8 which, unlike smaller balance patches released throughout the year, was a larger set of changes aimed at improving multiplayer StarCraft II through various design changes. This year we are embarking on another design patch and are excited to share with you our initial list of changes! This time around our general focus is to address underused units and abilities while also trying to reduce sudden game ending moments.
As with last year, this design patch will require a large amount of testing, feedback and revision before it can go live for everyone to enjoy, so we wanted to get it into your hands for testing as fast as possible. The changes in this blog are live on the Testing section of StarCraft II Multiplayer, and we would like to release the final changes after this year’s tournament season concludes in November. In the sections below we outline the proposed changes, and give some of our thoughts on each one to explain what we would like to accomplish.
In Legacy of the Void we changed the amount of resources in each base to promote expanding and discourage overly defensive playstyles. While this change did have the intended results, we think that there might be a way to make comebacks easier when players are denied a 3rd or 4th base. To do this, we’d like to increase the amount of gas on Vespene gas geysers, as well as the large mineral nodes. This means that bases take longer to completely run out, but since it’s only the large mineral node being adjusted, players are still encouraged to take new bases to increase their mineral income rate. This should also decrease some of the pressure on new players to secure new bases right away.
Last year Terran had a major update to its Mech arsenal. This year we are looking into adjusting MULEs to better synergize with Terran Mech, and giving them a bit more flexibly in general. We wanted to also take a look at Terran caster units and see where we could make changes to have them become more useful earlier in the game, or in smaller numbers. In general, we also wanted to improve some under used options and reduce sudden game ending tactics.
We are exploring a redesign of the Raven’s abilities to turn it into a more supportive caster role. Auto Turret and Point Defense Drone are being removed and Seeker Missile is being redesigned. Our goal here is to address feedback that Ravens are only somewhat useful when made in small numbers and become oppressive if massed. Players should now want to make a few Ravens during a game but not have incentive to heavily mass produce Ravens.
The new abilities are: Scrambler Missile, Repair Drone and Shredder Missile.
Scrambler Missile is an anti-mechanical unit ability that temporarily disables all weapons and unit abilities. This ability is effective against important enemy units to help swing a battle in your favor, even if you are down in supply. Since it disables abilities, this can be used not only against casters, but also against Medivacs and Warp Prisms to prevent loading or unloading of units, cutting off retreats or incursions into your base.
Repair Drone is a deployable unit that is unable to move, but has a repair beam that restores the health of a nearby friendly mechanical unit. The Repair Drone will give Terran Mech commanders a new way to keep their units up and running.
Shredder Missile functions like the old Seeker Missile, but on impact it works a bit differently. Instead of doing 100 splash damage it now does 30, but it also temporarily decreases the armor of all units hit by 3. This is intended to stack less efficiently with itself than the old Seeker Missile but will be more of a combo ability to use with core units such as Marines, Cyclones or Vikings.
In an effort to reduce certain game ending moments, we want to try making Widow Mines easier to clean up. They will now be revealed when their weapon is reloading, even if they are still burrowed. This should make cleaning up unattended Widow Mines much easier, while still allowing the Widow Mine to perform its splash damage role if properly set up with a Terran army or used defensively.
The illusive and deadly Ghost is already a strong late game tech choice for Terran compositions. However we wanted to try out having the Ghost’s key defensive ability, Cloak, come online faster while balancing this out by breaking out the Mobeius Reactor upgrade and putting it back on the Ghost Academy. This is intended to help players transition into Ghosts more safely in the mid-late game and possibly make Ghosts as an unusual but strategic opening for Terran players.
The Liberator is getting a minor design change to its vision when deployed in Defender Mode. Instead of getting a flat vision increase to allow it to fire into its targeting circle it will instead get extra vision within the targeting circle. This lets the Liberator still fire unsupported but makes it easier for opponents to sneak around its vision or attack from alternate angles.
We want the Cyclone’s Lock-On ability to feel a bit more impactful than it does currently. To that end we are making it so that the first four shots will fire rapidly to help increase the guaranteed damage that the Cyclone can deal to its target. We are also introducing a new upgrade to increase the Cyclone’s Lock On damage against armored units. While the Cyclone is not intended as an all around Anti-air option we wanted to try experimenting with giving its Anti-air weapon a bit more long term use.
New Upgrade: Smart Servos
This upgrade will make Thors, Hellions, Hellbats and Vikings transform much faster. This is a rather experimental change to see if we can get some more micro out of the Terran transform mechanic. However, we are not targeting Terran siege units such as the Siege Tank and Liberator with this upgrade as we feel it would take away the interesting counter play to those units.
With Protoss we are looking into smoothing out control of certain units within the Protoss arsenal. Especially in regards to their core splash damage options with the High Templar, Colossus and Disruptor. We also wanted to take another look at the early game defenses of Protoss, especially the ubiquitous Mothership Core, and seeing if we could make these defenses revolve more around the basic Protoss early game units. Since these changes are quite large we will be keeping a close eye on how they all work out.
In perhaps the most experimental, and risky, change of this update we are trying out removing the Mothership Core and moving its early game defense role to the Nexus itself. This is not a minor change and we will be paying close attention to how this plays out during testing. In doing this change, we hope to somewhat simplify Protoss early game defenses by concentrating defensive power in the Nexus itself rather than a specialized unit that moves between them.
We are changing Chrono Boost to behave more like it did during Heart of the Swarm where it costs energy to cast and lasts a fixed duration. Its macro boost rate is overall similar to how the ability currently functions in Legacy of the Void. By moving the macro ability back to being an energy cost there will be interesting decisions to make between spending Nexus energy on macro boosting or defenses.
We have changed how Mass Recall works. Now Mass Recall will bring back units in a target location to the Nexus that cast the ability. This should allow for Protoss players to make the choice to be more active on the map with their units. As games go longer this could increasingly give Protoss players more mobility as they take and hold more bases. We don’t want this to result in super safe army movements, so when units are being recalled they will be unable to attack or move while the ability is being channeled before they are called back to the nexus.
In replacing Photon Overcharge we are trying out a Shield Battery structure (Shield Recharge and Restoration Field have been removed for now from the testing matchmaker). This should allow Protoss players to use more of their combat units for defense.
With the removal of the Mothership Core we are also looking into Protoss’s other early game units. In particular we wanted to try sharpening the role of the Stalker, and make it more of a shoot and move unit with sniping capabilities. To do this we are slowing its attack rate but increasing its damage per shot.
While we like how much micro the current Disruptor provides, we thought that we could try making it do damage more consistently with slightly less game ending potential per shot. To do this we are making it so that the Purification Nova has a triggering detonation circle in the middle of the shot. So if an enemy unit comes in contact with the Purification Nova it will detonate immediately. In exchange the damage per shot is reduced but the cooldown is reduced as well. This allows the Purification Nova to hit more constantly against opposing armies but each shot is less likely to detonate in the center of the enemy forces and cripple them.
As mentioned in previous updates we wanted to take another look at the Colossus role in Protoss splash damage. With the High Templar filling the role of general splash damage, and the Disuptor dealing burst damage we wanted to push the Colossus towards a consistent anti-light armor role. In addition, the Extended Thermal Lance upgrade has perhaps too much power locked behind it for the Colossus’ more niche role. So we are looking into making it easier to obtain.
For the Carrier we wanted to slightly increase the cost of their Interceptors. We don’t want to remove the Carrier’s role from the game as a powerful end game unit but feedback from the community is that it can overperform in this role due to easily replacing lost Interceptor units.
The High Templar’s abilities and role are already in a solid state in Legacy of the Void. Instead we wanted to try making the unit slightly easier to use. To do this we are adding a very low damage auto attack to the High Templar, like in the campaign. This will keep the High Templar further back during fights and avoid its charging heedlessly into danger.
With the removal of the Mothership Core we have adjusted the abilities of the Mothership itself slightly. This is likely not its final state, but is just a starting point.
While we don’t want to make Protoss ability gameplay any more complicated we wanted to try making Observers more useful for ladder players. Currently Observers are selected with the select all army button (F2 by default) which can often bring Observers out of position and to their untimely demise. While we’d like to keep observers in this selection, we are considering adding the ability to ‘deploy’ your observer for increased vision range in exchange for being unable to move.
Since last year’s update, we have seen a number of new strategies and tactics come from the Zerg. This time around we are looking into encouraging more direct interaction with Creep spread from Zerg specialist units and wanted to increase the utility of the Lurker. Additionally we want to look into experimenting with Zerg ground based anti-air options outside of the Queen and Hydralisk. Looking forward as the testing progresses, we want to make sure that Zerg has enough aggressive options before late game so that Zerg players don’t feel heavily pressured into only defensive play.
For the Infestor we wanted to try experimenting with making the unit interact more with Creep. We also wanted to see if we could reduce some of the game ending potential of fungal growth while keeping it as a strong disable/area of effect ability.
We are changing Fungal Growth to slow affected units' movement speed, while also increasing the overall radius of Fungal Growth. While burrowed, the Infestor will also be more visible on low graphics settings.
The Infested Terran ability for the Infestor is also being changed. Currently the unit is used as a last resort and we think that there is potential to make it a bit more useful. But we do not want Infested Terrans to become a main army composition. Instead we are trying out having Infested Terrans move into an anti-air role with a weaker anti-ground attack.
Infested Terran Ability:
With the Lurker, we like its current role as a zone controller but we think that its current window of use is a bit too small. This is due to a combination of the Lurker Den being soft locked behind the important Hydralisk Muscular Augments upgrade and when games go late detection can heavily reduce their effectiveness.
To address this we have split off the Lurker Den into its own building that can be made from a Drone once a Hydralisk Den has been built. Additionally, we are adding a new upgrade called Digging Claws on the Lurker Den which increases the Lurker’s move speed and burrow speed. Our goal here is to give the Lurker more late-game utility when detectors are more numerous.
The Viper’s Parasitic Bomb ability is often used as an all or nothing mass cast tactic. You want to get as many Parasitic Bombs ready as possible and cast them all at once to destroy the enemy quickly. We wanted to keep the ability as a strong anti-air option but make it no longer exponentially grow in power. By increasing its damage a Viper user can be more confident about targeted enemies being destroyed.
Much like the Observer we wanted to try making the Overseer less likely to run to its doom if a player was intending for them to hold position somewhere.
For the Swarm Host we wanted to increase the counter play options against them. By slowing down its move speed off Creep to that of the Siege Tank and Immortal opposing players should have an easier time counter attacking Swarm Hosts. Its move speed on Creep is unchanged however, keeping Creep spread very appealing to a Swarm Host user.
Keep in mind that this is a first pass on the design update for November this year. Things may look very different as testing goes on with numbers changing, new changes being added or other areas being rolled back. We are very excited about the potential that these changes have for the StarCraft II multiplayer community, and the test matchmaking queue has been activated. Please let us know what you think in the comments below and have fun!
November 2 Changes
October 5 Changes
September 28 Changes
Please review our most recent Community Update, as well as other recent Community Updates for additional details on the changes below.
September 21 Changes
Please fine a new Lowko announcer, a set of new portraits, and bug fixes in this patch!
Introducing WCS Spring, Summer, and Fall—plus GSL and the WCS Global Finals.
Competition in Europe and the Americas begins January 31.
DeepMind will share its latest updates developing AI in StarCraft II.