PDA

View Full Version : Giving The Hydralisk Back It's Glory



DemolitionSquid
10-11-2012, 12:41 PM
Against my better judgement, I occasionally make a foray to the Team Liquid and Battle.Net HotS forums to see what kinds of ridiculous things they're discussing, and the bullshit they're pawning off to the devs as "critique." For example: Team Liquid has a thread bitching that the new match-start automine to combat lag should be removed because its giving the game's pro macro skill a disrespectful bukkake. That thread is longer than their threads about the useless Oracle and Tempest, and OP Widow Mine COMBINED.

Fuck I hate TL.

I have, however, encountered one thread on the official B.Net SC2HotS forums about Hydralisks that, much to my surprise, wasn't completely fucking pointless. Here's the reference link (http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/6794322692?page=1) for masochists.

The thread is still a cesspool, but it does raise some interesting points, to which I will quote.


... people say you have Blink stalkers, or chargelots, or cracklings... no one ever says you have RANGED hydras...


I am saying, hydralisks are not a viable unit, even after every upgrade they are still inferior to a tier 1 unit with no upgrades.. the upgrades themselves make no sense, what if the stalker had to have an upgrade for range, and speed, and didnt have blink, and was made a tier 2 unit.. and had its health reduced to 80, would that seam fair to you? a stalker with the same health as a sentry? hmm? with no armor? would it?


I would love it if Hydras had an upgrade that allowed them to shoot while burrowed. This would solve the problem imo.


Zerg regen, burrow and creep speed are traits that all Zerg have, burrow is just too powerful before detection can come out so it is an upgrade, after detection it is lack luster, maybe if they had burrow movement... Protoss can warp in by pylons, have regenerating shields... I am saying that the upgrades don't make sense, if you need clarity.. HYDRAS W/ "Upgrades" 80hp, 2.81 speed, 6 range. Vanilla STALKER.. 160 total hp, 2.95 speed, 6 range.

Does this seam fair? 350/350 upgrades to be on par with a tier 1 unit?


I suggested giving them some kind of poison vs bio but no one liked it.


Everything counters hydras, anything with spash counters hydras even hellions, even some air like pheonix can counter hydras.. Hydras counter nothing effectively, not even air even with speed they are too slow to ever catch up to anything other than the void ray, and at that point a tech switch to colo or storms = gg.

As you can see, the general topic is that Hydras are completely pathetic, and something needs to be done beyond the new off-Creep speed upgrade. I fully agree with this position.

However, before I begin posting my own analysis and solutions, I would like to hear some more thoughts from this community on the issue. If you have any opinion on the Hydralisk please post here so I can get a sense of where the community is really at on this topic.

RamiZ
10-11-2012, 02:22 PM
I agree that Hydras are currently the worst Zerg units. What a guy has suggested in a thread on TL.net(he made a really big thread (http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=374811) ), to buff Hydras and nerf Roaches(or change them) in a way, because Roaches now are fast, tanky and cheap, while Hydras are slow, have low HP, costs a lot etc. But let's skip the Roaches, and go to the Hydras.

What he suggests is to pump the Hydras cost to the 125/50 instead of 100/50, but rework their damage, so instead of (12+1 per upgrade)*0,83, let it be (15+2 per upgrade)*1. This way, initially, Hydras have only 0,5 DPS more, 15 instead of 14,5, which isn't a lot, but allows them to be a lot better in the late game. He also wants to move the range upgrade to the Hive tech, and make it +2 instead of +1, while he isn't sure about the speed upgrade, but I guess that speed upgrade at tier 2 makes sense then, since they will have 5 range instead of 6.

I know that you hate TL, seeing most of the answers and arguments there, I can't believe that people aren't banned there for stupidity... but there are minority of pretty smart posters that follows the pro scenes and have decent ideas and arguments.

flak4321
10-11-2012, 03:10 PM
We could examine a lot of differences between BW and SC2 in lament of the noble hydra's great fall. In BW it was the go-to early anti-air unit and was devastating in large groups. I feel there are at minimum 3 reasons for the downfall, and none seem obvious to fix.

First and foremost I will agree they are too late in the tech tree to be a viable go-to unit at a time in the game when they would be viable. This position is weakened further by the earlier presences of both roaches and queens, for reasons we all know.

The second reason is the added beef in the toss and terran ground armies. Hydras just don't last like they used to.

The third reason is it has no real purpose anymore save as a defensive anti-air unit. These are all pretty much highlighted in one way or another in the opening post, but I felt like trying to make them plainer for those who have trouble with Mr. Squid's trollcasm.

As for a solution, well we are in an inenviably difficult position you could say. I would say move the chitinous plating from the ultra den to the evo and have it require a hive and buff both the ultra and the hydra.

It is however well worth noting that the hydra is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance as a defender of the swarm hosts from anti-air units because the attackers must come to the hosts.

We could therefore easily, albeit hilariously consider the option of removing the hydra from the tech tree altogether and have it become the free unit the swarm hosts spawn, trading the speed and range upgrades for the current enduring locust upgrade. ;)

Triceron
10-11-2012, 03:43 PM
I'd like to think that the Hydra was a casualty of SC2's design philosophy for underpowered/popular units. Hydras in SC1 were badass because they were better than their counterparts from other races. Dragoons were slow and clumsy, Marines still had very low hit points and survivability, and Goliaths were tooled almost specifically for anti-air only. The Hydra excels in all forms of combat, being the ideal all-purpose unit. It's why the unit became so popular.

SC2's design changed the Dragoon into the Stalker, a much more efficient variation. Terrans were given marine upgrades for higher health pools, and quicker reinforcement through Reactors. Hydralisks remain mostly the same as their incarnation in SC1, and because of that they're left behind comparatively to their counterparts. They're no longer the most efficient or practical unit to get, even within the Zerg force.

I don't really see Hydralisks gaining back their former glory without having to nerf units of other races. You could possibly give Hydras a pure stat boost, but that doesn't really change how they're used. You could add some gimmick like burrow move or burrow attack, but I feel that takes away from their role as a mobile all-purpose unit.

What I would rather see is if they could be boosted in effectiveness by having new units or spells that specifically compliment Hydras (or ranged units in general). Something like how Dark Swarm was a great compliment for Zerg Melee, or how Devourers made Mutas much more effective against air.

Hydras still have an important role already in SC2, and I wouldn't want them to have any more upgrades or gimmicks than they already have right now.

- edit - Actually, what I would probably like to see is for them to have a bit more survivability, so what about change their armor type from Light to normal? That way they wouldn't be so easily countered.

Todie
10-11-2012, 06:06 PM
im gonna ahve to think on this... for now, what i can say is that i doubt blizzard sees this as much ofa problem. they are proud of that speed upgrade and insist that it will play out nicely in the end when other HotS stuff find their place.

... +2 damage per upgrade is a cool idea though.

DemolitionSquid
10-11-2012, 07:47 PM
It appears the general consensus is that the Hydralisk is just straight up too weak. Its a generalist unit, like the Marine, but inferior in every way.

I'd like to start by analyzing why that might be.

A) Its stats are simply too low for its cost.

The Marine costs 50 minerals and does 7 DPS. It has 45 HP. It has two upgrades: Combat Shield to increase its HP to 55 (an increase of ~25%), and Stim to increase its attack and movement speed by 50% for 12 seconds - raising its DPS to 10.5 and its move speed from 2.25 to 3.375. The Hydralisk costs 100/50 and does 14.5 DPS. It has 80 HP. Its two upgrades are Grooved Spines (increasing attack range from 5 to 6, or 20%), and now Muscular Augments increasing speed from 2.25 to 2.82 off creep (25% increase). The numbers here seem clear; the Marine is a statistically more cost efficient unit.

This leads us to my next point.

B) The Hydralisk lacks army synergy because of its low stats.

Marines are used in formation with Marauders and Medevacs. Marauders help absorb damage and apply additional damage to armored targets. Medevacs heal both Marines and Marauders quickly, negating even more damage and making the 10HP debuff from Stim a non-issue, essentially permanently raising the Marines DPS and movement speed late-game. Marines can be placed in Bunkers to help defend, essentially giving them hundreds of extra life with repair, and a +1 increase in attack range. Marines are used with Tanks, defending them and being supported by their splash.

Hydralisks are used with Roach/Ling and Infestor.... and that's about it. Roaches and Lings tank for the Hydralisk, and Infestors use Fungal Growth to hold the enemy in place to maximize the Hydra's range and speed kiting advantages. There aren't really any other army compositions utilizing the Hydralisk, and its because its just not cost efficient.

Why isn't it cost efficient? My final point.

C) Blizzard has continuously nerfed the SC2 Hydralisk.

WoL Patch 5 (version 0.7.0.14356)
- The delay between attacks has been increased from 0.75 seconds to 0.83 seconds.

WoL Patch 8 (version 0.10.0.14803)
- Life decreased from 90 to 80.

I cannot recall why these changes were made exactly, but its clear that at one point Blizzard thought the Hydra was slightly too powerful.

---

So here's my suggestion.

Step 1. Change its armor type from Light to none (like the Archon), removing some of its direct counters, like Hellions. Test for a week.

Step 2. If its still too weak, move the Muscular Augments upgrade to Lair tech, so the Hydra can be more aggressive earlier, and increase the Grooved Spines upgrade from +1 to +2 range (5 to 7), giving the Hydra better range and opportunity to avoid damage and unleash its DPS effectively. Test for a week.

Step 3. If its still too weak, revert the changes of those last 2 patches to give the Hydra a pure stat buff.

Rake
10-12-2012, 12:29 AM
Step 1. Change its armor type from Light to none (like the Archon), removing some of its direct counters, like Hellions. Test for a week.

Step 2. If its still too weak, move the Muscular Augments upgrade to Lair tech, so the Hydra can be more aggressive earlier, and increase the Grooved Spines upgrade from +1 to +2 range (5 to 7), giving the Hydra better range and opportunity to avoid damage and unleash its DPS effectively. Test for a week.

Step 3. If its still too weak, revert the changes of those last 2 patches to give the Hydra a pure stat buff.

These seem like a good program of changes. But, I would like to point out, hydras will probably synergise very nicely with the viper. The viper can cut the range of opposing units and pull tanks out of death balls while the hydras protect the vipers from air attack. On the other hand, this might not be viable till late game when you have lots of gas so some mid-game buff might be useful.

Would mid-game speed or a health buff be OP?

DemolitionSquid
10-12-2012, 12:59 AM
Here's my thoughts on Hydra/Viper and Hydra/Swarm Host.

Hydras are basically glass cannons right now: high DPS, low HP. However, they don't really have the range to make use of it. A lot of units have range 5, 6, or higher. Even kiting the Hydra has issues because its so slow off creep until Muscular Augments. That's why I advocated an increase to 7 range. Like a range 6 Stalker out-microing range 5 Marines, Hydras should be able to be effective glass cannons through kiting micro.

Vipers have two spells: Blinding Cloud and Abduct. Blinding Cloud reduces enemy range to 1, which is obviously a huge deal for Hydralisks. However, its AoE is tiny at 1.5. Many enemies can easily escape the Cloud quickly. Without something to hold them in place, like Fungal Growth, Blinding Cloud is limited. The gas required to maintain a Hydralisk/Infestor/Viper army is high. The second ability, Abduct, is acctually completely counter to the Hydralisk's goals, although it works. The Hydra wants to stay at range of the enemy, but Abduct is most often used to draw the enemy in. What this does is cause the unit brought in to die faster because all of the Hydralisks in the army will surround and prioritize it. Its acctually a legitimate move, but I'm no convinced its enough to boost the Hydra as a core unit in like Zerglings or Roaches, whom acctually get far more use out Abduct because their range is so much shorter.

The Swarm Host is an interesting thing. Locusts share the ranged attack upgrade with the Hydralisk. I've always wondered why the Swarm Host spawned ranged Locusts instead of melee Broodlngs. I'm sure Blizzard could balance the Broodling output, they did it with the Brood Lord. Locusts used to hit air, but that was cut for an unexplained reason, so there's no real reason for the Swarm Host to use Locusts over Broodlings. I think that Blizzard specifically created the Locust to make better use of the ranged attack upgrade, because the Hydralisk wasn't working, so the upgrade was only useful to Roaches and Queens. I also think Blizzard removed the Locust's air attack to encourage Hydralisk use to help support the Swarm Hosts and counter their natural enemy: air units. This presents an interesting situation, where it seems to me that the ultimate purpose Blizzard wants for the Hydralisk is not to be a generalist unit, but a reliable AA unit. So far, however, that still hasn't really panned out.

Twilice
10-12-2012, 01:20 AM
+1 range, either base or from upgrade and they would be fine.

RamiZ
10-12-2012, 02:35 AM
It appears the general consensus is that the Hydralisk is just straight up too weak. Its a generalist unit, like the Marine, but inferior in every way.

I'd like to start by analyzing why that might be.

A) Its stats are simply too low for its cost.

The Marine costs 50 minerals and does 7 DPS. It has 45 HP. It has two upgrades: Combat Shield to increase its HP to 55 (an increase of ~25%), and Stim to increase its attack and movement speed by 50% for 12 seconds - raising its DPS to 10.5 and its move speed from 2.25 to 3.375. The Hydralisk costs 100/50 and does 14.5 DPS. It has 80 HP. Its two upgrades are Grooved Spines (increasing attack range from 5 to 6, or 20%), and now Muscular Augments increasing speed from 2.25 to 2.82 off creep (25% increase). The numbers here seem clear; the Marine is a statistically more cost efficient unit.

This leads us to my next point.

B) The Hydralisk lacks army synergy because of its low stats.

Marines are used in formation with Marauders and Medevacs. Marauders help absorb damage and apply additional damage to armored targets. Medevacs heal both Marines and Marauders quickly, negating even more damage and making the 10HP debuff from Stim a non-issue, essentially permanently raising the Marines DPS and movement speed late-game. Marines can be placed in Bunkers to help defend, essentially giving them hundreds of extra life with repair, and a +1 increase in attack range. Marines are used with Tanks, defending them and being supported by their splash.

Hydralisks are used with Roach/Ling and Infestor.... and that's about it. Roaches and Lings tank for the Hydralisk, and Infestors use Fungal Growth to hold the enemy in place to maximize the Hydra's range and speed kiting advantages. There aren't really any other army compositions utilizing the Hydralisk, and its because its just not cost efficient.

Why isn't it cost efficient? My final point.

C) Blizzard has continuously nerfed the SC2 Hydralisk.

WoL Patch 5 (version 0.7.0.14356)
- The delay between attacks has been increased from 0.75 seconds to 0.83 seconds.

WoL Patch 8 (version 0.10.0.14803)
- Life decreased from 90 to 80.

I cannot recall why these changes were made exactly, but its clear that at one point Blizzard thought the Hydra was slightly too powerful.

---

So here's my suggestion.

Step 1. Change its armor type from Light to none (like the Archon), removing some of its direct counters, like Hellions. Test for a week.

Step 2. If its still too weak, move the Muscular Augments upgrade to Lair tech, so the Hydra can be more aggressive earlier, and increase the Grooved Spines upgrade from +1 to +2 range (5 to 7), giving the Hydra better range and opportunity to avoid damage and unleash its DPS effectively. Test for a week.

Step 3. If its still too weak, revert the changes of those last 2 patches to give the Hydra a pure stat buff.
But it is somehow wrong to compare them to the Marines, even though I agree that they feel like stronger Marines, Marines are just imbalanced units, and whole Terran army revolves around Marines and their DPS, and the only way to counter them is with AoE attacks/spells, because everything else dies to them cost per cost, which is just straight retarded.

About changes to the Hydralisks, they nerfed them because Hydra + Roach army was too strong back in the beta. Roaches were 1 supply and had 2 armor, while Hydras were with 90 HP and 0.75 attack speed. At the lair tech, they would destroy everything, but metagame changed a lot since then, so I don't even think that if we revert those changes that they will be overpowered, they might also even end up underpowered like now lol.

And I was thinking about changing Hydralisks to just biological, that seems like a good change, together with +2 damage per upgrade, and +2 range at Hive tech, they would seem like a really decent units, and good alternative to the Infestors/Mutalisks/Swarm Hosts at Lair tech, while also being good in combination with Infestors, Swarm Hosts, Vipers, Ultras and Brood Lords.

Triceron
10-12-2012, 03:11 AM
There's definitely some fine tune number crunching that the devs must have to determine some of these finely-tuned stats to make sure the point values of these units aren't out of whack.

Sure, the Hydralisk, on paper, is much more expensive than a marine for not much more bang. It's even costlier than its SC1 counterpart without a vast upgrade, compared to the Marine which got 5hp boost on top of a +10 upgrade. The Hydralisk got a 25/25 cost increase AND takes 1 more supply than before. But it's still considered balanced in SC2 terms. Why?

I feel it's because with the addition of new units to the Zerg, the Hydralisk's role overall has shifted. In SC1 it was much more powerful because it was one of the only counters to practically everything in the game. Light units, armored units, air units; the Hydra was the go-to unit to take em all down. Aside from the specific hydra counter, the usual answer to most scenarios was 'if losing, make more hydras'.

SC2 has Banelings and Roaches. The combinations with these may seem very simple and straight forward, but the addition of these 'hard counter' units makes the all-purpose Hydralisk more deadly in some ways but it also throws it more into a niche. Hydras are still decent at killing anything. When you're able to soften up armies with Banelings/Roaches, Hydras can deal a lot of damage when not taking hits. Since Hydras aren't the go-to unit to take out masses of light units or armored units, their role in general is diminished to anti-air support or damage padding for your main force.

I agree that the combinations are lackluster, but again I think this problem is more deep rooted in the nature of SC2's design than a simple stat boost could solve.

Todie
10-12-2012, 05:16 AM
Hydras can deal a lot of damage when not taking hits.

This is the centrepiece of hydralisk identity really. Strong arguments have been made that the speed-off-creep upgrade "fixes" the unit in a way that allows it to use its range and high damage without getting caught and killed as easily as it used to. these arguments are not easily shut down. im not even sure i disagree with them.

its hard to tell if hydras are not used much because of "deep rooted nature of sc2's design" or if its mostly just deep rooted playstyle/approaches among sc2 zerg players; without a speed-hydra there hasnt been options for and the kind of groundbased kiting or mid-range hit 'n runs with expensive land armies - outside infestor use witch is fundamentally different through being more gas heavy, energy dependant and able to burrow-move.

Im fairly certain that the hydra with the speed upgrade will see more use in HotS than it has in WoL- though it may take some time to start popping up.

whether the unit deserves MORE design-attention or not is a broader question of design and is very difficult to answer without committing to some explicit assumptions - stuff that will be hard to agree upon. Generally, i prefer talking about more clearly defined problems/roles/solutions

TheProgramer
10-12-2012, 08:46 AM
I too saw that thread DemoSquid. I agree it said some sensible things. As for my opinion:

I think the hydralisk does have it's place, but suffers from the Roache's existence. What would help the hydralisk was if it was available earlier, but with roaches available early it would give zerg too much power too early.

As for it's upgrades. I think it's range upgrade should cost 50/50. This makes early hydralisk timings no too powerfull (as they would be if the rangeupgrade was already reaserched) but allows them to have their almost neccecary upgrade quickly.

Imho I think the new speed upgrade should require infestor pit, not hive, and I don't know how much the new speed upgrade costs, but maybe it should have a slight cost increase to compensate for being able to get it earlier.

flak4321
10-12-2012, 11:32 AM
I think the hydralisk does have it's place, but suffers from the Roache's existence. What would help the hydralisk was if it was available earlier, but with roaches available early it would give zerg too much power too early.

PG, this was a point that was brought up very often during the WoL beta, on these very forums and others. I remember at least 2 Blizz dev reports copied to these forums where Blizz honestly couldn't decide whether to have hydras or roaches early, or both. There was some feeling it would be somewhat OP.

There was also that whole Roach/Rauder/Immortal balancing act that also pervaded this conversation. One of the keys that lead to the Hydra's later tech tree spot is it's role as a ground based hard counter to immortals. Hydras neither suffer from the Immortal's bonus damage nor do they lose DPS to hardened shields. Unfirtunately, this hard counter only exists until Colossi begin emerging, which render Hydras quite useless except if the Hydras have far superior numbers.

This leads me to the thought that the Hydra is now the poster boy for Zerg unit design: comparatively weak, reasonably easy to mass once you have the tech, and only able to do significant damage en masse, like just about all zerg units.

DemolitionSquid
10-12-2012, 01:23 PM
I really feel that making Grooved Spines +2 range, or just giving the Hydralisk 7 range outright without an upgrade, would be the biggest thing to help it. Just look at the difference +1 range made for the Roach and Immoral.

Triceron
10-12-2012, 01:30 PM
I'm wondering if a range of 7 would make them better counters for spotted widow mines as well.

DemolitionSquid
10-12-2012, 01:44 PM
I'm wondering if a range of 7 would make them better counters for spotted widow mines as well.

Of course it would. It would make them better at everything. Range is a massive advantage in the game.

Carsickness
10-13-2012, 10:11 AM
I think the problem is availability.

Hydralisk requires Lair. But once a Zerg player gets Lair tech, he has so many more options that validating the cost and wait time for a Hydralisk den could be much better served with something else. The infestation pit, or upgrades for exambple.

So my solution would be to make the Hydralisk available at hatchery tech, but require a Lair to actually build.

For example:
Hydralisk requires evolution chamber, roach warren and Lair Tech to build. Making them available as soon as Lair tech is done.

DemolitionSquid
10-13-2012, 01:14 PM
I think the problem is availability.

Hydralisk requires Lair. But once a Zerg player gets Lair tech, he has so many more options that validating the cost and wait time for a Hydralisk den could be much better served with something else. The infestation pit, or upgrades for exambple.

So my solution would be to make the Hydralisk available at hatchery tech, but require a Lair to actually build.

For example:
Hydralisk requires evolution chamber, roach warren and Lair Tech to build. Making them available as soon as Lair tech is done.

I acctually like the idea of scrapping the Hydralisk Den and Roach Warren, and creating a new "Ranged Unit Creation" building at Hatchery that gives access to both.

I had a similar idea, but a bit less drastic. Make Swarm Host require Hydralisk Den instead of Infestation Pit. Everyone loves Infestors because Fungal, so they'd get the Pit even if it wasn't tied to Lair. Now it also gives Swarm Host. That's a huge buff. If the Hydralisk Den gave Swarm Host instead, then players could get the Den for either the Hydra or Swarm Host, and receive the other gratis, buffing the Hydralisk without really buffing the Swarm Host.

Pr0nogo
10-13-2012, 02:20 PM
Why the fuck do you always write "acctually"?

RamiZ
10-13-2012, 02:27 PM
I acctually like the idea of scrapping the Hydralisk Den and Roach Warren, and creating a new "Ranged Unit Creation" building at Hatchery that gives access to both.

I had a similar idea, but a bit less drastic. Make Swarm Host require Hydralisk Den instead of Infestation Pit. Everyone loves Infestors because Fungal, so they'd get the Pit even if it wasn't tied to Lair. Now it also gives Swarm Host. That's a huge buff. If the Hydralisk Den gave Swarm Host instead, then players could get the Den for either the Hydra or Swarm Host, and receive the other gratis, buffing the Hydralisk without really buffing the Swarm Host.

Yes, a lot of players on TL are suggesting that Swarm Host should come from Hydralisk Den, because right now, Infestation Pit gives you Swarm Hosts, Infestors and open up a Hive tech. A bit too much.