The proposed balance and design changes took everyone by surprise when they were revealed by David Kim. The sheer amount of proposed changes for a mere balance patch is unprecedented in SC2 history. We’re talking expansion-level changes here.
Note: I might get technical from here on out, so sorry about that!
Summary of the Changes
Terran mech seems to be the main focus of the entire design update. Siege tank damage has been buffed at the cost of tank drops. The Cyclone has been redesigned to be an anti-armored shredder (possibly to synergize with Hellions as mech’s core units). Liberators are hit with nerfs to anti-air (removed bonus to Light) while buffing the Thor’s. Other changed units include the Banshee (Speed no longer requires Fusion Core), Viking (ground mode buffs to Mechanical tags) and, Battlecruisers (no more energy, can cast skills with cooldowns).
The Protoss changes are a little more minor. Tempests can now cast a psistorm-like skill that deals AoE damage to a targeted area. This change seems to allow the Protoss to force engagements particularly against Siege Tanks. The only other change worth mentioning is that DTs get to have an upgrade that allows them to Blink (!). It’s a pretty hefty cost (150/150), probably put in just to up the annoyance factor of an already quite annoying, hatchery-massacring unit.
Now onto the race that I know the most. Zerg changes are a little more impactful than the Protoss ones but nothing as drastic as the Terran changes. It seems to target a shift in Zerg core army from the Ravager to the Hydralisk by simultaneously nerfing the Ravager with an Armored tag and buffing the Hydralisk substantially (seriously. increased base range by 1, Muscular Augments with further +1 range AND the speed buff, PLUS creep movement bonuses now affect Hydras). Other buffs include an additional 10hp to Banelings, Infestors gaining Deep Tunnel (basically tunnels and teleports to anywhere you have vision) plus the capability to use all abilities while burrowed. Minor changes to Swarm Host cost and Locust swoop range and Broolord range nerfs are in as well.
What could these changes mean for Zerg?
Full disclaimer, I am a 4.2k KR server Diamond Zerg at the moment. I’m not good enough to preach high level understandings about the game. That said, the metagame affects everyone, not just the top level players so I might as well throw my two cents in and predict what these changes could mean for us Zergs. So. Here goes.
A core Hydralisk would mean less reliance on Corrosive Biles leading to more a more consistent DPS for ranged comps. Plus, core Hydras will open the path for Lurker tech more easily. I think I am fine with them nerfing Ravagers due to this. I can’t say for certain whether the Infestor changes will be effective but being able to Neural Parasite while burrowed is already sending shivers down my spine.
Baneling buffs seems nice at first glance. It could lead to fights with micro on both sides, particularly against Bio Terrans. However, it could also mean hell in terms of ZvZ ling-bling fights, which is already annoying as it is. A buffed baneling with 40hp could mean that sometimes it might take three banelings to kill them due to Zerg HP regen.
A nerfed Liberator opens up the possibility of going Mutas versus Terran again, which is a win in of itself. LBM vs Bio is almost sacred to SC2 at this point. It was a shame that it has been pushed out of the meta due to Libs.
Due to the Siege Tank damage buff, Turtlemech have the potential to be really powerful in ZvT. Midgame will remain weak for Zerg. Ranged comps will probably not dent a turtling mech at all due to the Siege Tank buffs. Mutalisks could work due to nerfed Liberators, as long as the Zerg is careful around Thors and mines. No doubt, turret-crawling will become the norm however, which points to the late-game for a solution.
I think Vipers will become the go-to solution for Turtlemech. Blinding Clouds will become a requirement just to do damage. Parasitic Bomb too, in cases of a Skymech switch from T. Broodlords will probably be the only late-game unit to stand up against a tank-based army since Ultras will get shredded by the increased tank damage.
I don’t think ZvP will change very much. The DT blinks will be a pain to deal with, and having a Tempest shut down the mineral line for a good while will be annoying but these problems are not entirely exclusive to Zerg.
It still remains to be seen whether this predictions will hold. The changes aren’t final and with a post-Blizzcon target release, it’s still months away. Not to mention the coming matchmaking queue for the balance test map itself.
No matter whether we agree with the changes or not, I think the most important take away from this is the precedent it sets. It shows that Blizzard is now willing to do massive rebalancing like this, even outside a major expansion release. I’m really quite excited for what the future holds for SC2.
- The complete, official list of balance and design changes
- A Grandmaster Zerg’s thoughts on the changes