Pro opinions: Proposed Terran buffs
In the past six months, Blizzard has made a series of proposed balance changes to StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. While not all of the proposed changes eventually get implemented, the TL Strategy team is always eager to reach out to Professional players to get their opinions on the changes Blizzard informs the community of. If you are interested in seeing our previous interviews regarding proposed balance changes you can click the following links: First Article; Second Article; Third Article.
The most recent conversation surrounding balance in the StarCraft 2 community concerns the efficacy of Terran in comparison to both Zerg and Protoss. And while a new season with new maps is about to begin (which may or may not have an impact on the recent performance of Terran), and with the inclusion of nine Terrans qualifying for Code A in the GSL, Blizzard has decided to propose a new set of balance changes, aimed at improving Terran performance.
The changes Blizzard are looking at were described by David Kim on the official Blizzard forums as follows:
Medivac harass has been getting weaker since the beginning of HotS due to players improving at defending against them. If we increase the strength of Medivacs, we’d not only help out Terran on both matchups, but also help provide even more action-packed games to watch. We wonder if buffing the unload speed or increasing the duration of the speed boost slightly would help in a positive way.
Widow Mines are quite core in both TvP and TvZ. They’re also one of the most exciting units to watch and create lots of diverse moments depending on the players’ interaction with them within each engagement. We’re currently considering a slight increase to the splash radius of Widow Mines, which we believe could be a good direction to explore.
TeamLiquid has reached out to a small number of Professionals from the American and European WCS regions to get their thoughts on Blizzard's proposed changes.
Do you think there's a problem in TvZ? In which area?
coL_qxc: The two biggest problems I see with TvZ regarding creep and Terran's lack of good gas & end game units (usually these are the same. I would like to see creep recede slightly faster, even if it meant it was slightly easier to spread as the game quickly becomes un-winnable if Terran makes an early mistake that gives Zerg even a few minutes of map control. TvZ is extremely dependent on creep and creep feels un-dynamic in its creation/destruction.
Liquid`Snute: A classic ZvT plays out the same every time, Zerg defends for ages and Terran has a wide range of builds that can kill Zerg before the Muta cloud is up. The match-up might be close to balanced as a whole but most Terrans try to finish the game as soon as possible. Clever Zergs will never attack off of creep until they have some sort of fully upgraded 200/200 army with a muta cloud - or if they took an amazing defensive engagement.
It's very important to look at the win-rates relative to game length and compositions when evaluating the state of this match-up. Especially looking at the correlation between Mutalisk count and win rate would be interesting.
Property.MorroW: I think there is a problem in TvZ.
Acer.Nerchio: Yes, i think drops are too powerful and zerg is too weak outside of creep while being too strong on creep.
ROOT.Iaguz: Maybe a slight one. I think for most of HotS up until the last 6 months, Zerg was the harder race to play, but they've trained themselves to deal with most of our common timings and tightened up all aspects of Ling/Bane/Muta style play (nerfs to widow mines and hellbats surely didn't hurt, of course). Add in favorable maps and of course Zerg appears to have an edge, and now it's up to Terrans to tighten up their execution in turn.
Cascade_DIMAGA: I think Zerg need more time to discover all builds of terran, nowadays there is a lot of new builds with Hellbats so its difficult to know which one exactly it will be and its tough overall right now in ZvT.
EG.Xenocider: The problem currently in TvZ is that Terran (assuming played off of bio) has no way to deal with mass banelings in the late game, especially on creep. With the nerf of the widow mine (combined with Z figuring out how to deal with over time) Terran actually has no way of dealing with an amount of banelings that rivals the amount of bio. The second, and perhaps the defining flaw in TvZ prevalence of the muta. The muta allows the Zerg army to scale much better than the Terran army. If Zerg wishes, they can go to 30 mutas and never allow the Terran to move out with more than 3/4 of their army. The mutas can come back to the fight and help snowball the victory, or the ground army can win without the mutas provided that it's a good engagement on creep. The mutas can also cause havok in the Terran's base when there is a stalemate. When both the threat of mutas and the threat of banelings +any tech transition grows into the late game, the Terran will always feel as if he is playing against the timer. (because he/she is) TvZ currently is decided on the first 2 medivacs at the highest level, if they can do damage (which they shouldn't provided perfect control from both sides) then the Terran is at a disadvantageous position.
Do you think there's a problem in TvP? In which area?
coL_qxc: Scouting is very hard in TvP. If you're a bit unlucky with your scans or scouting or the Protoss is a bit trickier/skilled at denying scouting than most it can feel impossible to prepare correctly. I don't know if it's a problem as much as a design flaw, but I think photon overcharge needs a slight rework. Right now it feels excessively strong and prevents a huge amount of early aggression from Terran. I think if photon overcharge cost 50 mana, lasted 40 seconds and had a 60 second cooldown it could be a move in the right direction. This creates more windows of vulnerability while also allowing the Protoss more opportunities to use time warp as a single spell use wouldn't be as expensive which would hopefully create more dynamic play. I don't like end game vs protoss, but that might just be me. Warp gate has always been incredibly frustrating - especially warp prism play. 10 zealot & 3 dt warp-in in my main feels so dumb. Often this match-up feels incredibly easy to lose and nearly impossible to win if it goes to the late game as storm prevents major counter attacks while losing a single engagement as Terran often seems to end the game completely. I don't know how or if this needs to be fixed, but that's my observation.
Property.MorroW: i think TvP is pretty ok but scv pulls are very strong on some of the maps. the new ladder map pool it will be easier for Protoss to defend.
ROOT_Iaguz: Protoss is kinda similar in that there's only one really effective strategy against them (marauders + medivacs, in case of emergencies pull scv's or make ghosts) and they've spent a lot of time learning how to handle the dangerous Terran midgame. Their late-game is still superior and they're always coming up with devious strategies or timings to confound Terrans and steal wins.
If you go by the fact we haven't won a GSL in basically forever and that Terran representation in Code S has for the past few seasons been at an all time low and that only the Crown Prince of Summer has been the only one to win tournaments since October last year and that the ro8's of the recent MLG and Dreamhack and GSL feature only a single Terran among them then maybe a bit of a buff isn't such a bad thing.
ROOT_Minigun: Yes. I think there are not enough Terran openers compared to the protoss ones. This has been dealt with somewhat just due to making maps where blink isn't as good anymore, and Terran's have started to figure it out. Mainly the problem with Terran is getting their the "perfect" composition. Getting there is EXTREMELY difficult, because the Protoss player will attack you before you can get to the stage where you have 15-20 ghosts, and a good viking count. I think Terran falls off badly somewhere after the 3 base mark once the Protoss is set up I think their early game is fine if they had some more options.
XMG_Lilbow: i think the TvP in terms of win-rate is globally balanced, but it's obviously harder to win for the Terran players because the Protoss have so much different all-ins in early game, which are pretty easy to execute but require a perfect scout and decision making from Terran, meanwhile the mid-game is Terran too, the Protoss just can't attack or he is all in, and the late game is a bit Protoss favored i think, mostly because of the Tempests which make the Protoss take the perfect fight.
EG.Xenocider: TvP right now is basically just drill into the Protoss so that you don't get into the late game. The threat of Tempests and more importantly templar make TvP ridiculously hard in the late game. I talked to bbyong and he said that TvP lategame is hard mostly because of feedback which is devastating to packs of ghosts. It's hard to say whether midgame is favored in either way because in the current meta game it's just a stalemate between early blink stalkers and drops. In the early game Protoss more openings than Terran but it's not really that important if the Terran plays well.
Liquid`MaNa: I think there is. I feel the match up is overall fun to play, or at least it used to, before they changed widow mine splash radious to +shields. The reason why it was fun to play is that there was high templar zealot style possible to play. Now, with the widow mine change, the zealots don't stand a chance and EVERY shot of widow mine at the protoss unit is already cost efficient (exception being only one probe kill for one shot). So once the widow mine shot something, it was already worth the investment, not to mention the splash radious to kill the key gas units (sentries, high templars) or severely damage the zealot clumps. Now, in my opinion the only possible tech route is the colossus and even though it is good and not directly countered it makes every game look exactly the same or very similiar. As much as protoss has a very big variety of builds in early game, the middle game always stays the same. Late game PvsT also feels like it has a problem. As long as both players are agressive through out the entire game - it's fine. But if two players sit and macro for 20 minutes without exchanging, the defenders advantage gets too big and neither of sides can attack each other. I don't like that Terran can have around 10 scvs for gas mining and rest is only army (because of mules mining minerals) as well as constant scanning in the endgame, because the terran usually had around 15 orbitals ready to call down mules or scans. Sure, protoss has the oracle with relevation and it's a great ability, but it actually costs supply and money to see the terran army. It's very likely that the oracle will die to vikings with relevation being casted. That only applies to the big maps though, Alterzim for example.
What do you think of Blizzard's latest proposed changes?
coL_qxc: I don't think either of these changes address what the actual issues with Terran are, they simply buff the alternative solutions players have come up with. Can't win the late game? Out multi-task your opponent with Medivacs. Widow mines seem fine as they are. if they were buffed it would help, but it doesn't seem like the correct approach. Terran's weakness is more due to inflexibility in changing tech and lack of late game tech options.
Liquid`Snute: Buffing Medivacs (and to some extent Mines) will only encourage more aggression from Terran. Terran could benefit from having viable tech options to the 3base 4M-train, something that can compete with a greedy 4-base Zerg without auto-losing. Tanks, (Thors), Turrets, Ghost, BCs... It's just very hard to balance. Zerg will always use a Mutalisk cloud and if a Terran follows the game up with mechanic units, Zerg will just go Swarm Host. There is no easy way for Terran to play against something like this, besides the early build orders and being overly aggressive.
Property.MorroW: i think buffing Terrans ability to harass in mid-game with Medivacs is not targeting the issue which is that Terran falters in the late game without a complete mech composition.
right now Terrans are not sure whether widow mines or Hellbats are stronger to use in TvZ, after a mine buff it might become pure widow mines without Hellbats again.
whichever the case i don't oppose a mine buff. The issue for bio is their inability to fight Zerg in late game and mech doesnt take use of widow mines.
Acer.Nerchio: Blizzard has no clue what they are doing - Medivac buff is absolutely ridiculous. Shift-queued drops are already really powerful and they outrun Mutalisks after clicking 1 button. Terran has the most potential for multi harass and it would break TvT.
Mines could probably be a little bit stronger but I don't think Terrans are doing that bad against Zerg especially with the last Hellion buff.
ROOT.Iaguz: They're good but uncreative. I'm not going to say no to positive Terran changes, but these aren't ones that will make for different games which is kind of what you want in a patch. Most of the changes done to HotS have either been about nerfing stupidly op shit (hellbats and PvT blink stalker openers) or about trying to open up new interesting styles to keep the game fresh (hellbats again, also hydras, tanks, DT's and more), but this patch doesn't do either. Medivacs and Mines are already good units, we use them all the time, they're fun.
It just seems like Blizzard would rather stay super focused on LotV (the thing that actually makes them money so fair enough I guess), and give a quick simple fix to Terran. Which is frustrating but oh well it's something and like I said I'm not going to say no to it.
Cascade_DIMAGA:Honestly I was a bit shocked when i read this because Medivacs already very strong unit for 100-100 resourses and 2 Supply limit in my opinion, but that's only their thoughts and they are just trying to do something so we will see how it will work out. I can be obviously wrong cause i'm only Zerg player and i'm thinking kinda from one side, so gl to balance team.
I don't know about TvP but in TvZ Polt shows mass widow mines in late game with bio and it works quite well so widow mine still good in TvZ.
ROOT_Minigun: I don't like the new changes. This does nothing to effect what I just explained above. Their early game doesn't need a boost in this way.
XMG_Lilbow: Stronger widow mines is probably a good thing for TvZ, but i think that for TvP these changes are not really adapted to the situation: the mid game Terran is already very strong so i think the up should be about late or early game, like nerf oracle or maybe make the nuke stronger? Yeah the nuke in late game can be painful on some maps (hi king sejong), now imagine if the nuke just shoot in less time, like 15 seconds for example (it's 20 right now). Positioning nuke would become "usable" i think, but the harass in late-game would be way stronger, Protoss only have 10 secs to find where is the nuke (yea because if u find it in the last 5 seconds u will probably loose some probes) which can be very hard if you have 5 base, and if the Terran know where to aim with the nuke, the red point is just invisible and the only way to guess where it is is to listen the noise of the nuke which is not really what you want to do when you are in late game and when you have a lot of macro to do.
EG.Xenocider: The widow mine buff helps in TvZ to deal with the baneling issue, not relevant against the mutas. Useless in TvP because the meta is blink stalker/colossus. Medivacs will help in both matchups but don't really address the underlying issues described earlier.
Liquid`MaNa: Both of them are complete bullshit in my opinion. I don't understand the thought proccess from Blizzard in that regard. Terran is the strongest race in the midgame and surviving that part as the opposite race is very hard. Therefor, they don't need any new solution in middle game. So, what Blizzard decides to do? Buff terran middle game units even more than before. This is something close to the previous potential lowering cost of Hydralisk. As much as I respect Blizzard for their work, I wish they would show some knowledge about the game rather than explaning "this unit is exciting to watch".
What do you think Blizzard should target with their changes to help Terran?
Liquid`Snute: - Improve the Siege Tank overall.
- Medivacs could be able to pick up tanks in siege mode? With or without the siege retained.
- Infernal Pre-Igniter could also add a short, "burning" anti-regeneration effect to Thor anti-air attacks to further force cautious use of Mutalisk vs 1-5xThor+Bio armies.
- Increase MULE repair rate
+ This one is a bit silly but maybe in the late-game ... Terran could call down Barracks units from space to a Medivac location instead of having to walk them across the map? Haha. Just a thought :D
Property.MorroW: I think the issue with Terran vs Zerg is that their late game with bio is too weak and our tier 3 units take too long time to produce. overall this patch seems more directed towards helping Terran in midgame where i feel as a Terran player myself struggle in the early game and the late game.
Acer_Nerchio: I don't think there have to be many changes but I think we need Legacy of the Void.
ROOT_Iaguz: Making Siege tanks not suck vs Protoss, giving Terran Bio play a bit more power going into lategame but not in a way that just leads to us hardcore turtling into whatever it is.
Cascade_DIMAGA: I think Zerg struggling against PDD nowadays in really late game vs ravens/vikings combo, so i think we need some sort of anti-energy unit or spell for Zerg(you could say you have fungal, but in real games especially when terran just turtle as hell its not working cause of tanks 13 range),so if we will have something like feedback or emp or anything similar to that it would be great.
ROOT_Minigun: I would like to see something to increase their mid-late game potential. Either buff mech, and make it the standard TvP OR/and make it easier for Terran to get their perfect composition. Specific buffs, I am not sure.
EG.Xenocider: Blizzard needs to implement something for Terran to be able to deal with mass mutas, mass banelings, and late game protoss, rather than focusing on our midgame strength.
Liquid`MaNa: Unfortunately I don't have a great idea for the perfect solution for terran. I think a brainstorm with progamers could help with that. Blizzard should definitely look at the Terrans lategame or mech units to make them more playable (at least vs Protoss). I personally think that mech is underused vs Protoss so far, I have troubles playing against it on my own, but I think it would be easily deflectable with good amount of practice, so they should take a look into that.