With the impending end of 2018 Season 4 and the beginning of 2019 Season 1, StarCraft II is due for its first real balance patch since the complete redesign last year on November 16th. A little while ago, there was an unofficial ‘balance patch’ as beam-weapon values were corrected to their intended state, slighting weakening the attack power of Oracles, Void Rays, and Sentries. Well, it was slight on paper but truthfully, Oracles lost a lot of bite. This time around though, a lot of units are being reshuffled again, though not as often as Donald Trump reshuffles his cabinet.
The exact patch notes are available here and Blizzard does a good job explaining why they’re pushing these changes, but I had to admit, I don’t really agree with some of these proposed balance changes as I don’t feel it really addresses the core of the issue but it is what it is so without further ado, let’s jump into it!
Mag-field Accelerator research time increased from 79 seconds to 100 seconds
As you may or may not know, Cyclones are good at killing armored units and structures but they become REALLY good once this upgrade is researched. 800 damage over 14 seconds is roughly 57 DPS. That’s why in a low-economy situation, Cyclones are very good. In fact, Cyclones now have pretty good value wherever, whenever, due to their single-unit assassination role. This nerf is aimed at diminishing the power of Cyclones in a proxy factory situation and also delaying the punishing power of Battlemech, a mobile, Terran Mech composition that has become popular in TvZ. 21 seconds isn’t really going to deny the power Cyclones will have over Zerg, but it will weaken the proxy power in TvP. 21 seconds is long enough for an Immortal to get Chronoboosted out. A minor nerf.
High Impact Payload weapon range increased from 10 to 11
I’m actually kind of amazed they decided to push Thors this far into the anti-massive role. Thors now out-range Broodlords – let that sink in. Sure, I mean, Infestors and Vipers will counter Thors but 11 range is a lot of range. The developer’s theory is that by increasing Thor’s range, it will combo by weakening Skytoss options, to hit Carriers and Tempests harder, to hit Battlecruisers and Liberators harder, but Thors aren’t viable in TvP because of Immortals and Zealots so really, this just makes Thors slightly better as a ground option in TvT and makes more difficult in TvZ. I don’t think this is a good idea.
Weapon Refit research time increased from 43 seconds to 100 seconds
Battlecruiser rushes have gotten insane traction because they’re finally good units. For the uninitiated, Battlecruisers are Terran capital units that were widely considered nonviable in almost every match-up – this has changed now as Battlecruisers lost their random delays in firing and gained the scoot n’ shoot to attack while in motion. This change is aimed at reducing a BC’s ability to Tactical Jump into an enemy base, kill a whole bunch of workers, then Yamato whatever’s left without taking away the Battlecruiser’s viability. And in my opinion, it doesn’t, as it’s move and shoot power that is troublesome, not the Yamato Cannon. Many times, casting Yamato is a mistake precisely because you can’t move while the spell is channeling. I don’t think this is the nerf Zerg was hoping for.
Anabolic Synthesis upgrade now increases Ultralisk movement speed off creep by 0.82, up from 0.41
No one gets this upgrade but holy crap, this is an insane change to movement speed. Here’s how it generally works: no one makes this unit in PvZ because of Immortals, Archons, and Skytoss options. In TvZ – if you’re Terran and you’re on creep, you die. The same happens if Zerg is off creep. This change, however, turns a Terran’s ability to get back in the game from a bad position from 3/10 chance to 1/10. I don’t think it will alter win-rates all that much since at this point, Zerg has almost certainly won but come on.
Nydus Network and Nydus Worm
Nydus Worm health increased from 200 to 300
Nydus Worm armor while emerging decreased from 6 to 5
Nydus Network and Nydus Worm initial unload delay period decreased from 0.36 to 0.18
Nydus Network and Nydus Worm unload period decreased from 0.36 to 0.18
Nydus Network and Nydus Worm load period decreased from 0.18 to 0.09
No one’s using Nydus Worms. Why? Because they can be stopped now. I’m not sure how I feel about this change. One one hand, a 100 HP boost is pretty significant, but if I was already aware of it, I’m pretty sure my reaction time is fast enough that I can still kill the worm before it unloads. If it does unload though, the change in unloading speed is significantly stronger and increases the success rate of a deployed worm. I know it’s losing an armor point, but overall, this is a big Nydus buff. It might actually be possible to win with a Nydus all-in again.
Gateway build time increased from 27 seconds to 30 seconds. Warp Gate cooldown remains unchanged
This is an utterly immaterial nerf. Absolutely nothing will change.
Warp Gate research time decreased from 114 seconds to 100 seconds
This change is bad, but the next change is worse. It’s almost like the developers WANT to break TvP even harder. 14 seconds is a lot of time in StarCraft. This is a terrible change.
Blink research cost decreased from 150/150 to 100/100
You heard that right, a 50/50 reduction in Blink, which means 1 extra Stalker. 1 extra Stalker that can be warped in faster because of the Warp Gate research change. I honestly think this will be game-breaking in TvP but not do anything in PvZ.
Cost decreased from 200/100 to 150/100
This change was proposed because they want Protoss to build more Robotics Facilities, which they believe will help Protoss in the mid-game in TvZ. What it fails to address is how the proxy situation works out. Even with an increased price to Immortals, the math is still 25 mins in Protoss’s favor. It’s may not seem like a lot, but it’s very significant as the initial 50 min savings means I can put down the Robotics Facility faster, even if I build a Shield Battery. Shield Battery + Immortal into Stargate Tempest…the advantage snowballs.
Cost increased from 250/100 to 275/100.
This is a largely immaterial change as by the time the economics change against Protoss’s favor, it’s too late. I am strongly opposed to the Robotics Facility/Immortal change. I think it’s already too strong and I should know, I cheese with this build all the time for easy ladder points.
Movement speed increased from 2.63 to 3.01
Gravitic Boosters upgrade now increases movement speed by 1.51, up from 1.31
As if Protoss doesn’t have enough scouting options, with Oracle’s Revelation and Sentry’s Hallucination (Now costing less energy!) and Observers having absurd vision when deployed in stationary mode. That said, this change is largely immaterial because Protoss has Oracles.
Removed the Light attribute
Added the Armored attribute
This is largely to address the interaction between Phoenix’s, Stalkers, and Oracles. Stalkers are now better against Oracles and Phoenix’s are now worse against Oracles. In my opinion, this change is largely meaningless as it does not solve the core problem in PvP, or the Phoenix turtle game.
Movement speed decreased from 3.5 to 3.15
Acceleration decreased from 2.8 to 2.1
Well, it’s about damn time! Tempests were way overpowered for the last two months and everyone who was objectively playing the Testing Mode when the Tempest was being reworked agreed. This change dramatically slows down the Tempest, making it easier to kite it with Vikings and for Marines to chase it down. The reduction in acceleration and movement speed is pretty big, I’m not sure what’s going to happen from here on, I don’t think this is the end of the Tempest cheese but we’ll see.
Overall, I think these balance changes are really bad for this game. I think this balance patch introduces more problems than solutions with the solutions we do have not really solving the key problems in the match-ups. I predict proxy-robo to be OP in TvP, for 4-Gate Blink Stalkers to make a resurgence, as Protoss just got even more early and mid-game control in TvP for seemingly no conceivable reason while not really addressing how PvZ in any meaningful way.
Also please see the Starcraft II January 3rd to 16th Period Analysis.