As you may know, we have entered the second week of the Heart of the Swarm beta test. Thank you all for the time and effort you have put in to playing and testing the game these last few weeks. Our plan to deliver balance patches for the beta will be very different from how we do patches on the live game. We will be making frequent iterations on balance throughout the beta test in order to reach our goals as quickly as possible. Accordingly, we expect that some of the changes we make will naturally have a larger impact on overall balance and that additional tuning may be necessary; however, we feel that the beta test is the perfect time to take these risks and learn from the results.
Here are the changes we’re planning on making this week:
Remove oracle ability: Preordain
Because Preordain overlaps with Revelation in that both spells grant vision, we’ve decided to remove Preordain. All in all, we feel that Revelation is a cooler spell because it also acts as a soft detection mechanism.
New oracle ability: Phase Shield -- Target friendly units are shielded from harmful effects for 5 seconds
Phase Shield is a new oracle ability that can be used to prevent harmful effects like the marauder’s Concussive Shells, the infestor’s Fungal Growth, or the viper’s Abduct. We feel that with the addition of swarm hosts and vipers, protoss is in need of a spell that can help against some of the new unit compositions.
Oracle Entomb changes
- Duration reduced from 45 to 25
- Mineral Shield health increased from 75 to 100
We were facing two issues with this ability: First – lower skilled players who didn’t react quickly would take too large an economic hit. Second – higher level players who reacted almost instantly would take too little damage from the ability. This is just a first pass at attempting to solve these two issues.
Oracle cost down from 150/200 to 150/150
The cost change is to make it easier to allow protoss players to actually build these units and justify using them. As with most tuning changes in the beta, this is probably not the final cost number. As we evaluate this unit throughout the course of the beta, we will have a much better idea of what the cost of the unit should be.
Warhound has been removed from the game
We received a lot of feedback from both the general community along with many pro gamers that this unit was not working in its current state. We definitely agree. The current plan is to remove it from the beta so that we can focus testing other units.
If we locate a better design for the warhound, it will return to the beta; until then, please play the game and give your feedback without the warhound in mind.
Carrier is back!
We continue to receive a lot of feedback from both our community and professional players suggesting that the tempest is difficult to use. We agree that it’s not an easy-to-use capital ship like the carrier, and feel it could be cool to have two big air units in the protoss fleet. The carrier will be the easy-to-use, multifunctional capital ship, whereas the tempest will be a more strategic and positional unit that can’t just be blindly massed. We know how much the carrier means to everyone and think that this is a great opportunity to give the carrier another chance before making a final decision on the unit’s future.
Mothership Core rebalance
The planned changes are:
- Mothership core build cost decreased from 100/100 to 50/50
- Mothership core’s Recall energy reduced from 150 to 100
- Mothership core Purify attack range increased from 7 to 10
These are simple number changes in an attempt to reach our goals for this unit: early game defense against all-in attacks, the ability to use Recall to be more offensive without having to commit completely, and giving protoss players more choices to work with in the early game.
Tempest attack range changed to 15, Tempest damage changed from 30 to 30 +20 massive
Now that the carrier is back as the general capital ship option, we are adjusting the role of the tempest to be more specific.
The tempest is now a specific counter-unit against massive units. The plan for the tempest is to be a viable option in the PvZ late-game against broodlords as well as in the PvP late-game against mass colossi.
Mothership starts with 50 energy when upgraded from the mothership core
Having a mothership start with max energy was an unintended side-effect that accompanied the change in how the unit was being built. Vortex is an especially deadly ability, and we feel it’s important to give players fighting against the mothership some time to react. Having a mothership capable of casting two Vortexes right when they finish building is simply too much.
Reaper has a new passive ability: Battlefield Awareness – Allows Reapers to see up cliffs
We like where the Reaper is right now with the over-all changes being made to the game. The new Combat Drugs ability allows for more reaper usage early on and this early action feels both fun to play with and fun to watch.
We’d like to try to push the usage of the reaper a bit further to see if there are even cooler options for the unit. The Battlefield Awareness ability will potentially allow reapers to be used not only for early game harassment, but throughout the game as a great scouting unit.
This is one of the experimental abilities we’d like to try as we’re still in the early stages of the beta. Any feedback on the new Reaper as a whole will be greatly appreciated.
New hellion upgrade: Transformation Servos -- allows hellions to change to Battle mode
In TvZ, battle hellions with good split micro are performing a bit too well against zergling/baneling openers. Therefore, we are adding an upgrade requirement to change modes, giving zerg players more time to make the necessary adjustments to their unit composition.
Battle mode hellions can be built from the Factory
After testing this unit in the beta, we are starting to see scenarios where building only hellions, only battle hellions, or having a choice of both are all reasonable decisions. Therefore, we would like to try allowing players to build these units separately while keeping the ability to transform between modes a viable option.
Widow mine no longer has an Armory requirement
We’re barely seeing any play using widow mines in the beta right now. While we are slightly afraid of bringing in a cloaked unit so early in the tech, we decided it would be cool to see how this works out at with no Armory requirement.
Swarm host’s locust attack range decreased from 3 to 2
We are decreasing the range of the swarm host’s locusts from 3 to 2 in order to slightly reduce the unit’s effectiveness while still maintaining its usefulness in a number of different situations. After this change, locusts should be pretty deadly when able to freely attack enemy units and structures. Additionally, small to medium-sized armies will have to do some kiting in order to reduce locust counts as head-on battles will not be cost-effective. On the other hand, larger armies (especially those with lots of splash damage) will be able to take down a large amount of locusts fairly efficiently if their swarm hosts are not backed up by other units. Swarm hosts in the earlier stages of a game can be used by themselves, but in the later parts of the game they will need to be used in combination with units like the corruptor or infestor.