StarCraft II Community Update Thoughts – August 6, 2019

Hey folks,

I’m brownbear. Today I’ll be offering my thoughts on the finalized StarCraft II balance changes recently announced in a community update.

Stimpack Buff

I don’t agree with this change, as I discussed in my previous write-up. My main concern is around counterplay. In all three match-ups, harassing the Terran and messing up their macromanagement almost always has a tangible effect in that it delays stim. Sometimes this is significant enough that the Terran is pushed into going double tech lab to get stim and combat shield at a reasonable time, which features its own pros and cons. Buffing stim’s research time just makes it more difficult for races to find damage with early pressure builds.

It’s likely not a big deal. But given that stim is the quintessential bio-upgrade, buffing its research time in the middle of a professional season doesn’t feel right to me. I think a more predictable improvement to TvP would be a very slight nerf to chrono boost.

Ghost Upgrade

I have some minor concerns around this change. At my pleb mid-master’s level, ghosts are quite difficult to use, and this buff is a good incentive to build more. I also think it has a positive psychological effect in that it will encourage Terran players to see their late-game army as powerful and flexible instead of simply inferior to their Zerg and Protoss counterparts.

On the other hand, ghosts are an extremely powerful unit in the right hands. I would not buff Maru or TY’s ghosts, and I worry about the impact of this change on professional play.

Maybe there’s a different way of thinking about this. A simpler fix might be to change the Ghost (and Raven)’s unit priority so that they don’t take precedence over bio. This would make them easier to control at lower levels without significantly buffing them at the professional level (though I’m curious to hear the opinion of high-level Terran players on this). It is a quality of life change akin to giving High Templars a minor ranged attack.

Overlord Speed Upgrade

I think this is a pretty good change. I like the risk/reward element of overlord scouting and encouraging players to do it more assertively is a good thing.

Infested Terran Nerfs

These seem pretty reasonable to me. I like the way the Infestor has re-appeared in both ZvP and ZvT. It doesn’t need a major rethink, just a minor tuning.

Warp Prism Nerfs

I like these changes much better than the original proposal to nerf warp-in time without an upgrade. The Warp Prism is a great example of asymmetric design – it might be a little annoying to play against, but then every race has unique elements that are difficult to deal with. To me a key element of asymmetric design is that it forces players to think differently in different match-ups – not just play differently, but approach the game in a fundamentally different way. The Warp Prism does a good job at this, particularly the way it changes how players think about backstabs, focus fire, and timing attacks.

Basically, I like this unit. It just needs to be dialed back a little bit.

Carrier Buff

As a fan of team games I am never happy to see the carrier buffed. Alas, the game is balanced around 1v1. This change seems fine to me, though I’m curious as to whether it’s still necessary. The original proposed changes emphasized the interaction between Infested Terrans and Carriers; since the former is now doubly-nerfed, maybe the latter doesn’t need to be buffed. Not sure honestly.

Recall Nerf

Good change. Gemini brought up a good point that there is occasionally an interesting mechanic in Protoss players deciding between using Chrono energy versus saving for for an emergency recall. But aside from this, I think the ability is used too heavily right now and too effectively reduces counterplay against the Protoss being out-of-position. As I mentioned a few years ago, Protoss’s reliance on the Mothership Core made being out of position too punishing. Now I think the pendulum has swung the other way. Nerfing recall helps address this issue.

Overall

Overall I like most of the changes, though I have some remaining concerns about the stimpack buff. In the future, I hope that the developers tackle the underlying economy issues I mentioned in my previous write-up as part of their annual design patch.

Thanks for reading. I create analytical articles and videos on real-time strategy on a regular basis – if you enjoyed this piece, I’d love it if you gave me a follow on Twitter and Facebook to catch more of my content.

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