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I think you can see what I'm getting at here. Historically protoss is known as the gimmick race, the easy to play but hard to win with race. Why is this? I believe it's because of a reliance on mechanics like warp tech, sentries, and MSC's. MC, the king of trickery and 2 base play, has been extremely successful over a long career with protoss, but why aren't safer players as successful with this race? Every protoss player has felt the sting caused by reliance on these mechanics. Remember how protoss fared at the tournament level throughout WoL? Here's a refresher:
In terms of overall results, protoss had the worst consistency. I feel that this trend will continue for protoss in the future, unless blizzard addresses the early game viability of protoss non-committal aggression and economy. I like the design of the sentry and the implementation of an early game caster for protoss, but at the same time, this is the bane of protoss players everywhere. One of my friends who played BW commonly refers to this game as ZvT, and while it's a bit of frustrated humor on his part, how far is it from the truth?
On paper, the early game of protoss is inkeeping with excellent design. Theoretically you want your players to have weak units that require strong play to utilize properly. This certainly seems to hold true for early and mid tier protoss units, but not so much higher tier ones. However, when examining the game as a whole with Zerg and Terran also included, it's obvious that this mentality went missing somewhere along the line for those races. Where is the risk for early tier terran and zerg players? What keeps them honest? Right now, the answer seems to be nothing, and it's bad for players and viewers alike. This promotes a deathball style of gameplay, instead of many back and forth action packed engagements across the map.
Let's take the non mirror matchups for protoss as examples. Starting with PvZ, we can see that throughout the course of WoL, as changes were made and players got stronger, we moved more and more toward a deathball style of play. New strategies were discovered for protoss, and promptly figured out or nerfed, and thus abandoned. Fast forward to the end of WoL, and you get what I'm talking about. PvZ turned into FFE vs 3 hatch fast hive, and games were being decided in a matter of seconds in one huge battle between 15 and 20 minutes.
It was boring to watch, boring to play as, and boring to play against. I feel it's a direct symptom of protoss reliance on gimmickry in general. If that's not enough to convince you, let's look at PvT. The standard right now is exactly the same as it was in WoL, except terrans just add widow mines instead of floating their factory around scouting. This might seem all fine and dandy, but let's have a closer look at what's going on. The deciding factors in every PvT are the same: how well does protoss defend aggression, and can he take his third? If a build doesn't allow these things, it's just not used.
On the terran end of things, he's teching, double upgrading, expanding, attacking, all at the same time. There's tons of variation to be had, and plenty of stylistic choice. Identifying and destroying all ins are as simple as counting pylons, taking a tower, and scanning. You never have to deviate very far from the main build order to hold off aggression, even when unexpected. The same holds true for PvZ. Is this really a good design for a game, is this fun to watch and to play? Does it promote more diverse gameplay? The answer is no.
I assert that the lack of non committal aggression for protoss is extremely detrimental to the development of SC2 as a whole. Think about all the resources blizzard has spent tweaking and changing and nerfing and buffing because of the implementation and the mentality of things like the oracle, sentry, tempest, MSC, and warp tech. Think about all the matchups shifted, all the styles learned and forgotten because they weren't viable anymore, all the resources wasted arriving at a game barely more well designed than it was on release. I'd argue that we've reached the other end of the spectrum, where instead of fast losses on steppes of war, we have long, boring games on bigger maps that neither player can end.
We've all experienced it and felt it, one way or another. The circular logic for blizzard when it comes to protoss makes no sense. Do we have sentries and MSC and warpgate because gateway units are weak, or do we have weak gateway units because we have sentries and MSC? The effects of this are extremely far reaching in the context of SC2. Strong t3 is a necessity because of this early game weakness, and so strong counters to those like the viking and the ghost are necessary. The list goes on and on, but I think you get the idea. Am I the only one around here who feels that the game would have been much more enjoyable over the past few years if protoss never had the sentry or warp tech, or at least different versions of them that lent themselves to aggression?
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Did blizzard nerf too hard and too soon? Are these design flaws from a failed blueprint of protoss? Does this warrant protoss buffs, or t/z nerfs? Is there a problem at all? If something has to be changed, I would advocate nerfing things in general, because of the philosophy on strategy games I have. I still firmly believe things should be weak in general, and games should be balanced at the top level of play. I don't believe adding new units or mechanics is the answer, and I think the MSC can attest to that.
So far, no new options have been discovered as a result of the MSC. It's just allowing worse players to survive attacks and make mistakes, it's the opposite of what it was intended to do, and a clear representation of why power creep is bad. The MSC is a power creep solution to the problem the sentry creates, or tries to solve (still not sure which). No aggressive openers have yet been discovered as a result of the MSC, and no greedier defensive plays have been seen to be possible because of it.
I believe that SC2 has suffered tremendous damage as a skill based game because of the design of early game protoss. Some parts of it deemed too weak, some deemed too strong. It's led to tons of changes that wouldn't otherwise have happened if z/t early game was more inkeeping with the design of protoss.
Think of all the changes that could come about, with the removal of sentries and warptech, and the rebalancing of the early game. Reavers instead of colossi, protoss t3 nerfs in general, both gateway and forge expands viable in PvZ, etc.
This doesn't even go into what could be improved upon about macro mechanics and the 3 base model in general, but I'll leave that for another thread, I think.
In conclusion, I feel more and more that the game would be much more strategically diverse without forcefield, MSC, and all the problems that spew from mechanics like these. There will be a wall for every protoss player, a ceiling they reach where their shenanigans are no longer effective, and they'll be lost. They'll wander TL strategy looking for ideas on what to do after they hold off that figurative 6 pool without losing a single unit, to come away empty handed. They'll explore and try new ways of standard play, and disheartened, come to the same conclusions that everyone came to long ago, that protoss is indeed the gimmick race, easy to play and hard to win with. I fear this will be true as long as tournaments have anything but single elimination formats.
I hope this didn't come off as too much of a rant or a whine to you, and hopefully it was an interesting read.