Two things are certain about patches regarding StarCraft II's beta phase: Things will change and people will wonder what influenced the changes. Nethaera has posted the first "Situation Report" regarding this patch, reducing community speculation while simultaneously providing a wealth of information. It describes the mentality behind every single change, what they hope to see regarding it and foreshadows some of the changes yet to come. This is in addition to another disclosure from lead designer Dustin Browder regarding his observations from Beta Survey 3. Despite how much there is to perpend in these notes, it's clear that Blizzard is making a step forward about communicating clearly to improve our perception and quality of feedback provided.
In an effort to better explain changes being made within the StarCraft II beta, we wanted to establish the Situation Report i n which we take the time to share a little more insight into the balance choices we make and how we believe these changes will play out. We are incredibly dedicated to bringing you the quality and high standards that you expect of a Blizzard game and StarCraft II, and hope that by sharing more of our thoughts with you, that we can continue to both receive great feedback, but continue to see great matches within the game.
We have been working hard over the last many weeks to try to make the races as fun as possible to play. We are seeing win/loss ratios (when you factor in skill) of as little as 6% between each of the races. This is a great place for us to be during a beta, when players are still learning the races and we are still making a lot of changes. In general we believe that Terrans are still a little weak against Protoss. The other match ups are too close to call and (according to our current numbers) are within 1% win/loss. We are also getting more and more excited about what we are seeing in our mirror matches. Terran vs. Terran is a very diverse match for example and we are starting to see some really nice diversity in Zerg vs. Zerg which is a huge win for us and the community considering how stale that match was when we started the Beta.
We’ve made a significant amount of changes within the latest beta patch 11 and wanted to give a brief overview on these changes.
Splash - Splash damage now originates from the center of the target, rather than the impact location near the unit in order to maintain more reliable splash damage.
We have changed how splash works for several units across the game to make it always hit the dead center of the target unit. Previously splash was centered on the front of the target unit. This makes splash generally more effective, though against certain large targets (buildings, Thors, Ultralisks) you will now not get any splash damage since the splash radius will be contained entirely within the radius of the large target.
Battlecruiser -The build time has been decreased from 110 to 90.
We are trying to make this ship a little more useful. In reality this unit is easily countered by Corruptor, Void Ray, or Viking which may already be in play by the time it arrives, but we think it might see a little more play if it’s just easier to build.
Hellion - The range has been increased from 5 to 6.
This is not an actual change to the area effect of the weapon. The weapon was always range 6, but it would only acquire targets at range 5 so it would get a little bit of splash that would hit enemies behind its initial target. By making the weapon range 6 it is easier to shoot and run from enemy units. It does make the splash a little less useful if you are just using the “attack move” command.
Raven - Seeker Missile range has been decreased from 9 to 6.- Splash radius has been decreased from 2.4 to 2.- upgrade no longer requires Fusion Core.
We are hoping to see some more Seeker missiles without unbalancing the unit. At the same time we want to reduce the effectiveness of Seeker missile in 2v2 games where mass Ravens have (on occasion) been a problem.
Siege Tank - Life increased from 150 to 160.
Siege Tanks are seeing good use in several match-ups but we still think they could be a little tougher so they can maybe get in one more shot during big fights.
Thor - Ground damage decreased from 45 to 30- Ground rate of fire improved from 1.93 to 1.28.- Air damage changed from 8 (+4 Light) to 6 (+6 Light).- 250mm Strike Cannons are now an upgrade at the Factory Tech Lab; research now costs 150/150 and 110 seconds; energy cost increased from 100 to 150.
The damage change reduces the Thor’s opening burst, which will mean that some units will be able to shoot a little longer before being destroyed. The increase in rate of fire means the damage-per-second remains the same, but it does change a few relationships. Thors are no longer as effective against Roaches (for example) without fire support from Marauders.
The Thor Strike Cannons have become an upgrade to try to help out the Ultralisk, who is countered so hard by this attack that we see very few Ultralisks in Terran vs. Zerg. This is (of course) not enough to really change that relationship, but we have some more plans for the Ultralisk in the next patch.
The anti-air changes make Thors a little more clear in their role as an anti-light AA weapon which gives more value to Vikings and Marines.
Archon - The splash radius has been increased from 0.8 to 1.
This minor buff to the Archon makes it a little bit more useful but doesn’t really change a lot of its core relationships. We still view the Archon as a recycle for a High Templar who is out of mana and not a core unit that you will build unless you are facing very specific opposition (like mass Mutalisks for example).
Colossus - The damage has been decreased from 20 to 15. The rate of fire has been improved from 2.2 to 1.65.
The changes to the Colossus damage and rate of fire are similar to the changes to the Thor. They reduce the burst damage from the Colossus so fewer units will die in the initial blast and get to shoot a little bit longer before they are hit by more blasts. The damage is lower, but the damage per second is DPS is the same.
Phoenix - Can now attack while moving.
This is a huge change that allows a Phoenix to dance around Mutalisks and other air units and attack them while moving. Phoenix always did hard-counter Mutalisks, but now even a very small number of Phoenix can challenge a very large number of Mutalisks so long as they are willing to attack and move away. Use your Phoenix to keep out of the Mutalisk attack range while firing yourself and you can do a lot of damage to a pack of Mutalisks.
Sentry - The damage has been decreased from 8 to 6.
We are seeing a lot of Force Fields which we really, really like. We don’t want to see fewer Force Fields, but we do want to see a higher cost for those Force Fields. By reducing Sentry damage we believe that Protoss players will have to be more careful about the number of Sentry they make.
Broodlord - Life has been decreased from 275 to 225. Armor has been decreased from 2 to 1.
Broodlords are awesome. They needed to be a little weaker. They should still be pretty scary.
Corruptor - Corruptor damage changed from 12 (+10 Massive) to 14 (+6 Massive), speed increased from 2.75 to 2.9531, Corruption ability redesigned: Single target. Increases damage taken by 20%. Lasts 30 seconds. Costs 100 energy. Range 6. Cannot target structures.
All of these changes are a buff to the Corruptor. You will pay less gas for a similar level of Corruptor fire power. The Corruptor is faster and more able to keep up with your Mutalisks. In addition its special ability has changed. You no longer use Corruptors just to stun important enemy buildings but you can weaken important enemy units on the battlefield to make them more vulnerable to attack by both your air and ground units.
Infestor - Neural Parasite is now an upgrade at the Infestation Pit, research costs 150/150 and 110 seconds, can now target Air units, energy cost increased from 50 to 100.
The changes to Neural Parasite are there to try to protect the Ultralisk from being mind controlled too easily. It is also consistent with what we think the power level of the ability is against Thor and other units. We have also buffed the ability to allow it to target air units so you can use it as a defense against Void Rays.
Spine Crawler - The root time has been increased from 6 to 12.
At some levels of play we are seeing spine crawlers used to protect a Zerg player until he can advance to some dangerous technology (like Mutalisks). In these cases players are using Spine Crawlers almost exclusively to defend themselves and the ability to move the Crawler as a way to protect not only their base but their expansion as well. We want there to be a higher cost to this strategy and more risk associated with choosing to go “Only Spine Crawler.”
Ultralisk - Damage has been increased from 18 to 25.
We are buffing the Ultralisk, but we don’t think this buff is sufficient. Expect more changes to the Ultralisk in the next patch.
We are working hard on a few issues for the next patch. Obviously we are going to be playing this patch with the community to see what we broke with all of these changes. We are also going to continue to evaluate the Ultralisk and the Zerg in general to make sure they have enough choices and options on all of their units.
Battle.net (Beta Forum) - StarCraft II Situation Report : Patch 11
StarCraft II Beta Survey 3 Results