Scott Abrams | StarCraft Expert

Scott Abrams | StarCraft Expert

Scott is a Master-league StarCraft 2 player who has been playing since 2013. He is active in the StarCraft community and is frequently spectated in the arcade. When he is not getting stomped on the ladder, he enjoys reading, writing, and photography. You can learn more about Scott on our About page.

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Big Changes Coming November 16th to StarCraft II

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Well folks, it’s finally almost upon us – balance changes and LOTS of them. Originally announced back in early September of this year, the upcoming balance patch to StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion is set to go live on November 16, 2018 to coincide with the start of Season XXXVIII. Since the expansion was originally released three years ago, this is the second time Blizzard has overhauled the game design, making this expansion play like a whole new game. Again.

November 13th Update: Blizzard has changed the start of the season to November 21. 

With only a little less than a week left to go before the patch goes live, it might be hard to understand what the changes are and what they mean from Blizzard’s blog, but luckily, I’m here to break it all down and explain what you need to know.

So without further ado, let’s jump into it!

Disclaimer: Please note that this is only a list taken courtesy of Blizzard, of the proposed changes, none of these changes are final.


Terran Starcraft 2

Terran

  • Widow Mine
    • The Drilling Claws upgrade now permanently cloaks Widow Mines when they’re burrowed.
    • If Drilling Claws is researched, the Widow Mine will have a visual indicator to show that the unit has the upgrade.

Since the permanent cloak of the widow mine was removed after the mine fired thanks to the last balance patch, the unit lost a lot of staying power and potential map presence as the unit was revealed after its attack sequence finished. Now the permanent cloak is returned with a research from a factory’s tech lab, which makes widow mines a viable zoning and ambush unit once again. Zerg beware – widow mines are BACK baby!

  • Cyclone
    • Now requires a Tech Lab to be built at the Factory.
    • Health decreased from 180 to 120.
    • Movement speed increased from 4.13 to 4.73.
    • Unit armor set to 1.
    • Supply cost increased from 3 to 4.
    • Tornado Blaster weapon changed to the Typhoon Missile Pod weapon:
      • Damage changed from 3 (+2 vs Armored) to 18.
      • Can target air and ground units.
      • Attack rate changed from 0.1 to 0.71.
      • Range decreased from 6 to 5.
      • Weapon upgrades changed from +1 to +2 to account for the new damage value.
    • Lock On ability changed:
      • Ability can auto-cast.
      • Can now target ground and flying units and structures.
      • Damage changed from 160 to 400 damage over 14 seconds.
    • Rapid Fire Launchers upgrade removed.
    • Added Mag-Field Accelerator upgrade:
      • After researching Mag-Field Accelerator upgrade, Lock On will deal 400 (+400 vs Armored) over 14 seconds to ground and flying targets.

This unit is restored to the patch 3.8 version with some noticeable bug fixes. For example, the cooldown timer for Lock-on has been corrected to 4 seconds (it was incorrectly set to 9 seconds), and the Lock-on cast range is now fixed to the correct range, 7 instead of range 5. With reduced health and slower attack speed, the unit has been re-purposed back from its current front-liner mech role and back into a speedy assassination unit. With good micro, this unit can snipe high-value units and kite back, drastically increasing its value throughout the game. Be warned though, its lower health and weaker base attack power, plus its hefty supply cost means that you’ll have to baby this unit if you want to justify its cost.

  • Thor
    • Armor reduced from 2 to 1.
    • Explosive Payload AoE radius reduced from 0.6 to 0.5.
    • 250mm Punisher Cannons damage changed from 35 (+15 vs Armored) to 40 (+10 vs Massive).
    • 250mm Punisher Cannons weapon speed reduced from 2.14 to 1.79.

The Thor now has significantly reduced armor, making cheap units such as Marines and Zerglings much more effective at dealing with them. The reduction in AoE radius of the Explosive Payload makes magic-boxing more effective when massing Mutalisks as Zerg. The reduction of the Punisher Cannon makes each shot weaker against currently armored flying units (such as Vikings and Corruptors), but the attack frequency buff makes it overall stronger (especially against capital units such as Battlecruisers and Carriers).

  • Medivac
    • “High Capacity Fuel Tanks” upgrade name changed to “Rapid Reignition System.”
    • ” Rapid Reignition System” upgrade will no longer increase duration by 50%. Instead, it will decrease cooldown duration from 14 seconds to 9 seconds. 
    • Medivacs can now heal units Graviton’d by Phoenix.

The changes to this unit will likely result in no change to the meta as a) no one will research the upgrade because you need a reactor, not a tech lab for your Starport, and Phoenix’s rarely use Graviton Beam on biological units (they usually go for high priority targets such as Tanks or Cyclones).

  • Banshee
    • Hyperflight Rotors upgrade cost decreased from 200/200 to 150/150.

The hope is to see more use of the Banshee speed upgrade, but it is still unlikely to see in a professional match as the problem isn’t the cost so much as it is the research time (there is a limited window when banshees are useful as the unit is hard-countered by any aerial flyer that can also deal air damage).

  • Raven
    • Anti-Armor splash damage reduced from 15 to 0.
    • In addition to armor reduction, Anti-Armor Missile will also reduce Protoss shields by 3.

The Raven has been nerfed to hell and aside from use in TvT, will likely be under-utilized in all other match-ups due to high cost and general ineffectiveness. Anti-armor missile is basically useless now, as it deals 0 burst damage and units affected can simply wait out the clock. In a TvZ, suicidal splash-damage Baneling effectiveness is still just as effective, though it will weaken Hydralisk armies for any that are still alive. In TvP, this does nothing against Protoss splash damage and zoning options. It might have some effectiveness in an early-mid game timing scenario, but no pro is going to make Ravens (outside of TvT).

  • Battlecruiser
    • Removed random delay between shots.
    • AA damage reduced from 6 to 5.
    • Can now move while shooting.
    • Yamato Cannon damage reduced from 300 to 240.

This unit is still prohibitively expensive for what it does. Basically, this unit can now move and shoot and without the random delay in firing, a much stronger unit overall. The problem is that Terran already has more than enough zoning options, giving this unit an undefined role. Siege tanks deal much more reliable and consistent damage against ground armies, and Vikings are still cheaper in cost, supply, and time for taking out air threats. The Yamato Cannon more or less 2-shots all the right capital units as originally intended, but it doesn’t really make sense to make Battlecruisers in any scenario beyond late-game TvT.

  • Engineering Bay
    • Neosteel Frame and Structure Armor upgrades merged. The new upgrade is called Neosteel Armor and will retain the functionality of both upgrades combined. It will cost 150 Minerals/150 Gas and take 100 seconds to research.

There is no material change to this upgrade.


Zerg Starcraft 2

Zerg

  • Creep
    • Creep Tumor, Hatchery, Lair, Hive, Nydus Worm
      • Time in between creep growth increased from 0.3 to 0.45.
    • Overlord
      • Time between Generate Creep growth periods increased from 0.36 to 0.45.

Creep spread is going to be slowed down significantly and Zerg may find it difficult to adjust to having to spend more Queen-energy on tumors to keep the creep growing forward.

  • Queen
    • Transfuse restores 75 health and an additional 50 health over 7.14 seconds, down from 125 health instantly.

This is a huge nerf as the burst healing of Transfuse is reduced by 40%. Liberators will be able to 3-shot Queens even if they Transfuse. Oracles, Phoenix’s and Cyclones (amongst all other units) will have an easier time dealing with mass Queen-Zergling openings as Queens will be easier to snipe. Something to watch out for.

  • Zergling
    • Unburrow speed reduced from 0.71 to 0.36.
    • Unburrow random delay reduced from 0.36 to 0.08.

Ostensibly, the purpose of this upgrade is to make Zergling ambushes more likely. Would it? Maybe on a pro level, but the APM is likely too expensive to spend on burrow-unburrow commands.

  • Roach
    • Tunneling Claws no longer increases the health regeneration rate of Roaches from 7 hp/second to 14 hp/second.
    • Tunneling Claws cost decreased from 150/150 to 100/100.

This is a nerf and a buff. On one hand, the cost of the upgrade is cheaper, meaning you can have 2 more Roaches for the same vespene cost, but the reduction of health regeneration makes all your roaches easier to pick off. Overall, I think it’s a minor buff, seeing as having the upgrade is useful in many situations.

  • Hydralisk
    • Unburrow speed reduced from 0.71 to 0.36.
    • Unburrow random delay reduced from 0.36 to 0.08.
    • Needle Spines attack speed slowed from 0.54 to 0.59.

This is a nerf. No one is going to commit and position Hydralisks for ambush tactics for something might not even happen.

  • Infestor
    • Infestor unit radius decreased from 0.75 to 0.625.
    • Model scale decreased from 0.85 to 0.75.
    • Burrowed unit radius now matches the new unborrowed unit radius.
    • Infestors can now move through units while burrowed.
    • Fungal Growth will no longer allow affected units to Blink, Tactical Jump, or load into transports/buildings.
    • Infested Terran cast range increased from 7 to 8.

This is a buff. The changes to the unit radius means unit collision is reduced and the correct burrowing path means that Infestors will have an easier time launching Neural Parasites and spamming Infested Terrans (which by the way, also got a cast range buff). The biggest change though is that Fungal Growth will now prevent affected units from utilizing their spells to escape, making it much easier to kill trapped units.

  • Ultralisk
    • New upgrade added: “Evolve Anabolic Synthesis”
      • Cost: 150 Minerals/150 Gas/79 Seconds
      • Increases Ultralisk speed when off creep from 4.13 to 4.55.  The Ultralisk on creep will remain the same at 5.36.
      • If Anabolic Synthesis is researched, the Ultralisk will have a visual indicator to show that the unit has the upgrade.

It’s a nice upgrade to have, but it’ll only be researched after Chitinous Plating. Basically, Ultralisks were struggling to get any real value against Terran bio-armies because Marauders were reverted to Heart of the Swarm levels in a previous balance patch. With the speed upgrade, it will be harder to kite against Ultralisks with only a pure bio army.

  • Nydus Network and Nydus Worm
    • Nydus Network cost decreased from 150/200 to 150/150.
    • Nydus Worm costs decreased from 100/100 to 50/50.
    • Nydus Worm will no longer be invincible when emerging but will have 6 armor.

Overall, the Nydus Worm got nerfed. True, it’s much easier to deploy Nydus Worms so if you plan on making multiple worms and harassing constantly you’ll get a buff, but in terms of a timing, armor 6 is easier to stop than invincible. Combine this with the weakened Queen transfuse and Nydus all-ins are basically dead.

  • Burrow/Unburrow
    • Burrow and Unburrow have been separated into two distinct keys.
    • Burrowed and Unburrowed Zerg unit types will now be on the same tab-select, and both will be selected when double clicking on units.

This is a quality of life change. Zerg players have been asking for separate hotkeys for years and now they got em’. Thanks, Blizzard.


Protoss Starcraft 2

Protoss

  • Nexus
    • Chrono Boost will now display a visual status on the structure.
    • Mass Recall renamed to Strategic Recall.
    • Strategic Recall radius reduced from 6.5 to 2.5. 
    • Strategic Recall cooldown reduced from 130 to 85 seconds.

This is a nerf and a buff. On one hand, the number of units you can recall at once is reduced, but on the other, the cooldown is much faster. You might not be able to pull your whole army out, but you can still recall a significant amount of your forces. Overall, I think this is a buff as positioning is easier now, more than ever.

  • Sentry
    • Hallucination energy cost decreased from 100 to 75.
    • Guardian Shield radius increased from 4 to 4.5.

Nothing but buffs for the Sentry, with a cheaper Hallucination cost, Sentries can provide more scouting information, or even use Hallucinations offensively as simple tanks. Less energy cost = more energy use somewhere else. Guardian Shield buff makes a Protoss army stronger as more units will be sheltered, especially Zealots.

  • High Templar
    • Feedback now deals 0.5 damage per point of energy drained, down from 1 damage.

A minor nerf, since Feedback will still deplete all the energy of an enemy spell-caster (making them more or less useless) but not having full-energy units instantly die is still a plus for the other guy.

  • Dark Templar
    • Shadow Stride research time reduced from 121 to 100 seconds.
    • Shadow Stride cooldown reduced from 21 to 14 seconds.

Shadow Stride is an under-utilized ability, and while I don’t really see people getting it, having the option is nice. Shadow Stride can be very strong, as they can effectively force out additional scans from Terran.

  • Robotics Facility
    • Cost decreased from 200/100 to 150/100.

Apparently, this change is supposed to allow Protoss more flexibility by making this tech cheaper, but the net result is that Protoss proxies are much stronger due to the reduced mineral cost.

  • Colossus
    • Colossus weapon will now have turret tracking.

No joke, turret tracking makes the Colossus extremely potent against Marines, Zerglings and Hydralisks. This is a big buff, but it’ll still be an under-utilized unit because High Templar are still better.

  • Disruptor
    • Purification Nova changed back to pre-4.0 state. Purification Nova deploys a ball of energy that will detonate after 2 seconds, dealing 155 damage and an additional 55 shield damage to all ground units in its radius.
    • Purification Nova no longer detonates on contact with enemy units.
    • Purification Nova now sends a threat signal to the opponent on detonation instead of during the launch phase.

Prepare to return to the days where Protoss upgrades don’t matter and the only that does is BALLS. A definite buff.

  • Void Ray
    • Prismatic Speed reduction from 40% to 25%.

With a powerful Cyclone returning, the era of Voidray rushes are over. This is a minor buff.

  • Tempest
    • Cost decrease from 300/200 to 250/175.
    • Supply cost decreased from 6 to 5.
    • HP/Shields reduced from 300/150 to 150/125.
    • Move speed increased from 2.63 to 3.5.
    • Acceleration increased from 1.49 to 2.8.

This unit has been completely overhauled and it is very good all around. The low construction time and increased speed allows you to gain map presence early on and counters all massive units such as Battlecruisers and Carriers. Thanks to its speed, it can even trade well against Vikings. Thankfully, they’re very fragile, so there are plenty of options to deal with an otherwise broken unit.

  • Carrier
    • Build time decreased from 86 seconds to 64 seconds.
    • HP/Shields increased from 250/150 to 300/150.
    • Interceptor build time increased from 6 to 11.
    • Graviton Catapult upgrade removed from the Fleet Beacon.
    • Interceptor release period changed from 0.36 to 0.27.

I don’t know what Blizzard was thinking, but this unit now makes stargate openings insanely strong. In a 200/200 scenario, the Carrier is weaker because the interceptor launch speed and build time is respectively lower and higher, but the reduction in production speed per Carrier means that so long as you’re producing in parallel (2, or 3 stargates at a time), you can reach full power faster. Carrier/High Templar will still shut down most compositions, especially against Zerg. It’s a buff and in a really big way.

  • Mothership
    • Strategic Recall name changed to Mass Recall.
    • In addition to slowing unit movement speed by 50%, Time Warp will now also reduce unit and structure attack speed by 50%.

A buff. By slowing down your opponents both in movement and attack, you can severely punish  anyone with an under-utilized spell. This spell can definitely change the tide of battle.

  • Assimilator
    • HP/Shields reduced from 450/450 to 300/300.

This makes assimilator blocks much easier to handle.

  • Shield Battery
    • Health and shields reduced from 200/200 to 150/150.
    • Shield Battery can now regenerate shields of units Graviton’d by Phoenix.

A nerf in the endurance of a shield battery, but the ability to regenerate shields of Graviton’d units will increase the defender’s advantage in PvP.

  • Gateway
    • “Transform to Warp Gate” will now be an auto-cast ability.

A quality of life change that noobs will especially enjoy.


Conclusion

And that’s it! Keep in mind, not every scenario was covered but generally speaking, this is how most of the interactions are going to be like. Overall I think this is a poorly conceived patch that really should’ve had more professional feedback as most pros haven’t had the time to properly provide feedback due to their preparations for Blizzcon 2018 (here and here). I expect there will be a follow-up balance patch in a few months after, but we’ll see.

Until next time!


Source: Blizzard Blog

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