So I’ve read a lot of HoTS feedback blogs but none of them seem to come from a similar perspective of my own. I am not a fan of SC2. I tried it out during beta and after release for a bit, but went back to BW and stuck to it ever since. My main problem with SC2 is that I just don’t find it fun to play or to watch. The units just aren’t as interesting as in BW, the micro isn’t as fun, the macro isn’t as impressive/satisfying, etc. But this thread isn’t about why I don’t like SC2, it’s about what I think about the changes that HoTS makes, and if they are large enough steps in the right direction to make me give it a chance
I’ve noticed most blogs that I’ve read come from a perspective of “how will this affect balance?” or “how will this change strategies?” I intend to come from a perspective of “will this make the game more fun to play/watch?” Also note I did not go to MLG or play the game at all, but only watched the 2 battle reports and read information about the changes. So all I am saying COULD be completely off-base. I mean it is hard to say that a unit will/won’t be fun to play with just by watching a video of it after all, and I fully admit that I could be wrong on all accounts.
I’ll say now that what I am looking for in HoTS are 2 things:
1: new units that offer enough depth in control that you can spend hours practicing with them to make them exponentially more powerful with good control compared to no control (such as vultures, mutas, and shuttle/reavers in BW).
2: units that fundamentally change army tactics and behavior. For instance in SC2 almost every army is composed of “slightly different ranged units with some spellcasters or flying units” or “some spellcasters and flying units with a bunch of melee units”. In BW I loved how different each army felt in each matchup: the slow push of the terran mech with constant vulture-use (laying mines everywhere, harassing base, making it back to the tanks in time to defend from an attack), the mutalisk flock weaving in and out of a terran or protoss base being able to precisely pick off exposed units, a group of corsairs attacking mutalisks but running away from scourge, a well-spread out line of lurkers to minimize storm damage, the importance of cloaked units and detection, etc.
For instance the lurker was great in BW because it created so many different types of army styles for the zerg. Instead of just going “mass stuff” they could now rely on positioning to hold locations and defend bases, OR be used offensively when combined with a good flank from zerglings, OR be great for harassment, OR combine incredibly well with dark swarm to be able to hold ANY location on the map, not just a choke. I would love to see a unit as diverse, useful, and fun as the lurker in SC2.
So although I main race as Zerg in BW, I switched to Protoss in SC2 when I played it because I didn’t like controlling any of the units in the race. I am in love with mutas, lurkers and defilers in BW and there’s nothing nearly as fun to control in vanilla SC2 zerg. So I am a bit mixed about the new zerg units.
So I got to give blizzard props on the uniqueness of the swarm host, very neat concept (although the locusts themselves are pretty generic temporary mini-hydras, but I guess you can’t ask for much from a unit that only lives for 25 seconds). I like how the unit seems to create a new tactic and army control mechanism for zerg players, where you will go in with a fresh crop of locusts and attack letting the locusts tank damage, and then retreat once they are dead. While it won’t be as ground-breaking in terms of new strategies as the lurker was for SC1, if it’s actually used as is when HoTS comes out it will definitely add in some slightly new sort of battle tactics and army aesthetics, which is welcome (seemingly this will open up a different type of midgame army for ZvT that isn’t just the micro-less muta/ling compostion).
One thing I’m worried about is that it’s sorta a little too similar to broodlords. Combined with infested terrans zerg have 3 different freely spawned “shitty” units now, which might be a little too much. But it will hopefully make battles seem more drawn-out and spread-out, which is something SC2 sorely needs.
One other thought when comparing swarm hosts to lurkers, is I wonder if zerg will need to keep swarm hosts spread out as much as lurkers needed to be vs protoss because of storm. Psi storm won’t be nearly as devastating to swarm hosts as it was in BW to lurkers (in BW you can storm a lurker and then 1 zeal or dragoon hit will kill it, whereas storm in SC2 will only take it down to 1/3 health). Although it seems like as protoss you would still use storm vs the mass army and then just kill the swarm hosts in between waves taking no damage. I only note this because I loved how lurkers vs protoss led to a completely different sort of army for zerg (spreading out lurkers and holding a position, trying to snipe observers and constantly sending weak troops to reinforce areas).
Compared to the swarm host, the Viper seems like the most needed unit for zerg in SC2. I always felt since beta that the zerg needed another hive-tech unit (preferably a spell-caster) that opened up another tech pathway at hive. Abduct seems like a neat spell for sniping high-priority units, something that zerg have never really had before (in BW spawn broodling was only used in very certain situations and couldn’t be used vs archons or reavers, and no one ever uses neural parasite, right?). It’s sort of nice to see consume back in SC2 now, although this form is kind of weird (I think it’s way cooler to hurriedly consume your own units and to be able to do it offensively instead of only at your own base). Although I guess vipers won’t be nearly as crucial as defilers because their seemingly most crucial spell – blinding cloud- only works vs like 3 non-zerg units in the game. At first I thought blinding cloud would be really cool when it worked vs all unit types, but now it’s just a spell that will hardly be used and only exists to make mech much more tempting to terran players (and will probably make ZvZ different).
I mean I think blinding cloud would be really cool if it was actually going to be used vs all ranged units. But as it stands now it seems like the spell just exists because blizzard wants terran to go mech vs zerg in HoTS. I mean the spell is basically d-web from BW, which was a criminally under-used spell (especially in PvZ). If they don’t make blinding cloud more powerful, I would like to see them change it a spell that will actually be used and in all match-ups, and make consume feel worthy.
Overall Zerg impression
So I was hoping for some real unit replacements in HoTS, but I guess blizzard doesn’t want to touch any of the core units at all. I was hoping blizzard would try to move back toward the BW philosophy of zerg design, which is “a few strong units supported by a bunch of really weak units”, but instead it seems like they are continuing the SC2 design of “a bunch of not quite as weak units.” The viper is no defiler and you will need half a dozen of them, which from a BW perspective is weird to think of having like 10+ spellcasters in your maxed-out army once you factor in infestors (and fuck even queens are spellcasters too I guess). The new changes are small steps in the right direction, but that’s really riding on the assumption that swarm hosts will really act as different in battle from other zerg units as I hope they will be. I mean abduct is a neat spell, but it’s no dark swarm. And I really would like to see a spell as cool as dark swarm in SC2 for once.
It seems strange to me that zerg are the only race that isn’t having some existing units reworked. They needed the most working during the beta for vanilla SC2, and I still think they lack any units that are very fun at all. Hydras will probably be more fun now that they have a speed upgrade and can be micro’d a bit, but rouches are still sorta blah (basically just your standard ranged unit with a few gimmicks that aren’t that important), mutalisks are still boring as hell compared to BW mutas, and corruptors are lame as hell (slow beefy AtA unit that only exists to counter some units and has a really boring spell). So while in HoTS blizzard is sorta trying to recapture the magic of units like the defiler/lurker/mutalisk/scourge, they still have a long way to go to show me that they can make units that are just as cool.
SC2 protoss always felt weird to me because gateway units get their asses kicked by terran and zerg unless it is backed up by a lot of AoE (storm or colossi), which is generally a lot different from BW (admittedly you absolutely need storm vs zerg in BW most of the time). Protoss seem to suffer the most from death ball syndrome because their units are so bad in 1v1 situations, and also not mobile enough to leave the death ball and “do something“ (defend a drop, harass a base, etc) but be back in time in case of an attack.
In BW it is true that protoss need to keep their army in a ball most of the time, although in each match-up there was a lot more going on than just that. In PvZ protoss needed to constantly harass overlords with corsairs to fully utilize them, and harass was very important (either reavers, storm drops, or DTs). I always felt like PvZ in SC2 mostly lost a lot of the great little moments and battles that were in BW just because harass is a lot less useful vs zerg in SC2. For instance simple overlord harass isn’t nearly as interesting in SC2 as it was in BW: overlords are much faster even without speed upgrade (also isn’t overlord speed upgrade basically free anyway?), zerg has way better AA by the time phoenixes or void rays are out than when corsairs were out in BW, there are no cute sair vs scourge micro battles and chases, and detection just isn’t that big of a deal in SC2 anyway.
So this unit made me really question how much I know about SC2 because blizzard constantly said “this unit exists because protoss have no good harass units” but I always thought they had some good options between phoenixs/void rays/ DTs/blink stalkers / storm drops. All these units are either primarily for harass/support or dabble in harass. But I guess at this point they just aren’t very effective (or at least not in enough match-ups) and so blizzard decided protoss needs another spell-caster AND another harass unit.
Before talking about entomb specifically, I want to talk about why I think harass is seen as a good thing from a player and spectator’s point of view (in BW at least). So harass is fun because it’s very risky but can pay off a huge amount. Most forms of harass in BW take a large amount of skill to be able to pull off correctly, and can really set you back if it fails. If you are good enough you can take out scores of workers with 1 or 2 reavers, but if your control is bad you can lose a shuttle full of 2 reavers not killing anything and be insurmountably behind. This is the sort of thing I would love to see more of in SC2 (the closest I can think of is banshees harass, but that is much more guaranteed to do some damage than something like 2port wraith and with minimal micro).
So needless to say when I saw entomb I was pretty underwhelmed. Here is a spell that does the same amount of damage no matter who is controlling the oracle, takes almost no skill to use (if you are good at multitalking you will cast it more often I guess, but that’s just really giving your macro a boost compared to your opponent instead of being a sort of “omg sick control dude” sort of skill), and can only be used in 1 way ever (maybe it can add some extra HP to your army if you are fighting right by a bunch of minerals and the AI auto-targets the minerals instead of real units). I mean sure it looks effective, but it doesn’t look like it will be fun at all. It’s almost as if blizzard sat down and said “ok what is the next closest thing we can do to just giving protoss a button that says “make opponent lose money?” I mean when you combine the ease of use (just cast 1 spell on a patch of minerals) and the quick speed of the oracle, it will be very hard to be bad at using entomb.
The other spells I would say I am happy with. It’s nice that protoss will now have detection outside of observers and cannons (something they will definitely need now that detection is far more important this time around) and it’s cool to see a parasite-ish spell back in the game. It is a neat, multi-purpose non-combative spell. I also like giving oracles cloak since it will mean protoss will have a cloaked presence on the map far earlier and far more often than they did before, which was something really cool about the protoss army in BW that they lost in SC2.
So overall I like how the oracle will make stargate tech more relevant (mostly because I think the phoenix and void ray are the 2 coolest units protoss has in SC2) and has some neat support spells, but entomb is just dumb. I dunno how blizzard can change it to make it take more skill and be a more fun spell though. Maybe make the range really short or make it cheaper but used on individual mineral patches so that you need to click on all mineral patches to full stop a base from mining? I don’t know, the whole spell idea just sort of sucks.
Do this instead: replace entomb with “shoot scarab” spell. It has a 5 second cooldown and scarabs cost 15 minerals. Scarabs have bad pathfinding but do enough splash damage to kill multiple workers in a single shot. Sometimes no scarabs come out.
If you can’t tell I’m only joking about that last part…. Well only kind of joking .
Mothership core / mothership
Protoss definitely had the most boring macro mechanic in SC2 so it’s nice that blizzard is finally giving them a bit more with the mothership core. One thing that is still a bit weird is that chronoboost and mothership core energy are not shared from the same pool, so there are now 2 pools of energy you have to use from your base. Not necessarily a bad thing but feels like it could be more elegant. I always wanted to be able to cast chronoboost on a unit and make it move/attack faster or something (lol) so it’s nice to have some macro mechanics that actually affect battles for protoss.
The mothership core seems like it will make it easier for protoss to defend their bases with minimal units, something that has always been risky for protoss and part of the reason they are so fucking frustrating to watch/play as for me. Energize is a cool-sounding spell although I don’t see it being able to work on nexii by the time the game actually comes out. Giving protoss town scrolls (recall) in the early game is a decent addition too. Same goes for purify I guess.
Ideally this unit will open up more strategies for protoss in the midgame by giving protoss a stronger defense. In fact I have no idea why you would ever turn it into a full mothership at this point. I mean you basically trade off this defense to be able to cast vortex. I don’t see that happening too often.
I thought it was really weird that blizzard originally announced the tempest as a unit that existed solely to counter mass mutalisks in the late-game (a problem I think most people didn’t think existed at the time), but now does nothing of the sort. I’m totally fine with replacing the carrier in SC2 with something else because a) the carrier sucks in SC2 and b) the carrier is boring in SC2 (which stems from the same reason that it sucks: you can’t micro it at all like you can in BW). The tempest however is not a very interesting replacement and I don’t see how it will be used that much. It definitely has more potential to be interesting than say entomb, as you at least have to be good about setting up a spotter for the unit. In fact I really like the idea of a super long-range unit in SC2, I just don’t think it’s a very good fit in tech, and it seems insulting to give it to protoss and not terran
So I’m a bit undecided about the tempest, hopefully it will turn out cooler and more useful than it seems it will.
Overall Protoss impressions
Individually none of the new units are too impressive, but put together they make protoss a bit more attractive. Ideally they will open up more options for protoss players so that they will not be forced into using giant death-balls as much. The oracle seems like a decent mid-game support caster, although as a harass unit it is pretty boring. The tempest seems like it could be a decent unit that at least forms a totally different sort of army style/strategy, although as a super high-tech and expensive unit I doubt it will be used too much.
Again, I would have liked to see some of the core protoss units replaced and see the game re-balanced (replacing or changing forcefield, the immortal, and the colossus), but I don’t think blizzard intends on making very big changes to the game unfortunately. So of my somewhat realistic hopes for HoTS, Protoss is a bit of a mixed bag. The new units will hopefully open up more varied play-styles for protoss that will hopefully be more interesting than the ones currently employed most of the time.
Unfortunately none of the new units seem to be very micro-intensive or have large skill-ceilings for control, something that protoss is really lacking (well, all races are I guess). The oracle will only require enough skill to remember to cast entomb every X amount of seconds (my gripe being that it would be a lot more fun if there was more to it than just “cast the spell”). The tempest will only be as fun as it will be to see protoss players doing all they can to protect the tempest while it pummels stuff from far away, assuming the unit is actually something players will want to build.
Realistically all I can ask for is for entomb to be replaced or altered to allow more skill and control possibilities, and maybe a replacement or alteration to the tempest with the same changes.
So this time around it seems like blizzard wants terran to go mech in every matchup instead of bio in every matchup. I think that is noble because 1) mech in BW is really cool and 2) I really hate watching the same big bio army blobs running around in SC2. However I think that blizzard is really missing the aspects of mech in BW that made it so cool.
Mech in BW relied on the might of the siege tank (sometimes terran can beat zerg with a mid-game timing attack with mass goliaths, but that is rare and usually means the zerg got caught completely off-guard). The BW mech army is very slow and methodical. It offers incredible defense and is very vulnerable when moving (un-sieged tanks are bad and terran runs the risk of having mines out of position (missing a flank) or walking on top of their own mines). Mech is weak against air unless it has strong support units (vessels/valks/lots of goliaths). VS zerg vultures and goliaths mostly just take damage while the tanks do all the damage, and VS protoss the tanks destroy dragoons while vultures destroy the zealots (meanwhile dragoons are good vs vultures and zealots good vs tanks). Mines are incredibly important to mech but I’ll talk more about that when I get to the widow mine. One last important aspect to mech is friendly-fire, and how so many tactics revolve around the friendly fire splash damage that tanks and mines have.
In SC2 blizzard seemed to have designed protoss to directly counter mech play with almost every unit. Zealot charge means zeals never have to take too much damage from tanks (and would drag mines SO GOOD if they were still in), stalkers don’t have to worry about tank range as they can just blink right up next to them, phoenixes can lift up sieged tanks and the immortal is seemingly specifically designed to ensure that tanks are never massed up against protoss. Not to mention that tanks have been severely nerfed from BW (much lower damage, more expensive, more supply).
And so it is extremely weird for me to see blizzard try to re-balance mech to be good against all the changes they made to the other races that made THEM good against mech in the first place. The end result is just this weird mixture of units that technically comes out of a factory and is a mech army but does not really seem to resemble the mech army of BW at all.
So hellions are sorta like vultures but without all the cool micro tricks. I mean sure they can kite some stuff but it’s not as cool as watching vultures patrol micro vs countless zerglings. Also they are missing spidermines which in BW made a vulture drop SO MUCH COOLER than most other drops (not just compared to hellions but compared to all drops in both SC1 and SC2). Those 2 things combined with the high speed and low cost are what made the vulture such a great unit and allowed for such a high skill-ceiling. This includes mastering the control and also knowing when and where to place mines (the act of placing mines itself is quite mechanically difficult and requires the mastering of magic-boxing).
But anyways hellions can now turn into slow walking short range splash damage units with some more health. All I can really say is “meh.” I mean sure it is quite functional and useful, but when combined with the rest of mech army means it’s just a slightly slower moving ranged blob that functions almost the same as most other armies in SC2. If anything this just makes the hellion a less micro-able unit because you don’t even have to worry about positioning them to get the best spread with their flame now. Instead just turn them into battle mode and don’t worry about anything.
So spidermines were the coolest thing about terran from BW that didn’t make it into SC2 initially and I’m glad to see them back in some form for HoTS. Widow-mines are easily the coolest and most interesting addition to terran for HoTS, although I have some worries that they won’t be as impactful as they seem at first.
So as mentioned before, in BW spidermines were most useful in adding extra HP to a mech army and allowing tanks to get potshots off on the opposing army as they attack the mines before they can range the tanks. Because you have you create widow mines for money and from a factory, they will not serve that function in HoTS. Spidermines were extremely powerful and essentially free, but took a ton of mechanical skill to get the most out of them (IE making sure that you make a ton of vultures and plant all their mines and plant the mines in good spots). Blizzard is trying to make these mines be sort of “super mines” by giving them AI so that one unit can’t trigger multiple mines and by allowing them to move around after initially being planted.
I think that this sort of “super mine” won’t work out too well though because if you are familiar with BW, the vast majority of spidermines are killed before they do any damage. I’m sure that these mines will be pretty powerful for the first few days of beta until players realize that they need more mobile detection faster, after which most mines will be destroyed without doing anything. They do sound like a great anti-drop/harassment unit (similar to scourge in BW) though, which might be their main use after the early game when most players get their detection up.
Another thing that worries me is that from what I can tell, they do not do friendly-fire. Friendly-fire and the riskiness that came with spider-mines in BW was a huge part about what made them so exciting (without mine-dragging it would be almost impossible to ever beat a decent mech army in BW). I really hope blizzard puts in friendly-fire splash damage for the widow-mine. It will make them so much more exciting for BOTH players (for instance once a unit is attached with a mine, the player can try to move them toward the enemy and take out some stuff with it before it blows up).
Here are two suggestions I would make to blizzard that maybe realistically they would actually make: 1) Decrease the amount of time that they take to blow up to about 4 or 5 seconds tops. This will hopefully encourage players to spread out their mines more so that they can maximize their splash damage (as 10 seconds is plenty of time for a decent player to select the affected unit and move them out of the way). 2) Add in friendly-fire splash damage.
The goliath niche from BW has always been really weird to me in SC2. Originally it seemed like Vikings were the new goliaths (as basically that’s what they are), but then they became a starport unit. Then the thor became a factory unit (originally it was going to be a “build with an SCV because it’s so big OMG” unit) and filled the niche as just a sort of super goliath. So despite these two “goliath-ey” units already in the game, blizzard is adding another. It seems like the warhound exists to make mech stronger v protoss (which again is weird because they seemingly specifically made mech really bad vs protoss in SC2) and to make siege tanks useless in TvT (which is weird because the cool part about TvT is siege tank lines).
The warhound is just a super boring unit from the looks of things. It’s an extremely generic 1a ranged unit with no micro possibilities. It’s just a mechanical marauder that can’t even stim. It’s easily the worst, least creative unit that blizzard is adding to HoTS. And because there’s nothing interesting about the warhound, it does nothing to make a mech army more interesting or unique compared to other ranged armies that are in the game already. Assuming mech is actually going to be popular in TvP in HoTS, it is hard to see the siege tank being the main unit in the army and instead the warhound will replace it, essentially transforming the terran army from a fast and relatively fragile ranged blob that dodges storms and the like (the bio army) to a slow and beefy ranged blob that just 1a’s everywhere.
Overall Terran thoughts
While it seems mech will be more viable and a bit more flexible now, I do not think that this version of terran mech will be as fun or as interesting as mech is in BW. Widow mines are a decent addition, but the other additions fail to re-create or replace the key components of mech that make it so cool in BW (importance of positioning, methodical pace, reliance on siege tank). Battle hellions seemingly just make hellions more boring and vulnerable to giant deathball-ness that 1a’s around, and warhounds are possibly the lamest unit blizzard has designed in the entirety of SC2.
Having a totally different army style for terran is really missing in SC2, and I was hoping that they would make some good improvements/additions to the mech army to make it really different from bio yet still very viable with its own pros and cons compared to bio (and of course I wanted it to be interesting and fun to control/watch). I’m not saying I want it to be exactly like BW mech, I just want it to be as different from SC2 bio as BW mech is from BW bio and that I want it to be as interesting as BW mech was. Unfortunately my impression of HoTS so far is that these changes and additions just aren’t enough to separate mech to become its own totally different beast. I fear that the mech army will be too similar to all the other ranged blob army types already in SC2. I also would of really have liked to see terran get a strong tier 3 unit, specifically a buff or replacement to the raven that will make it as game-changing and interesting as the science vessel is in BW.
So my not very useful suggestions to blizzard:
- Make battle mode more interesting or replace that function with something else that is cool and skill-dependant.
- Give friendly-fire to widow mines
- Replace warhounds with something that is at least a little tiny bit creative
- Just get rid of reapers already wtf
- Make ravens cooler/more useful
Other thoughts and Conclusion
So I’m not expecting HoTS to make any really big changes and honestly blizzard doesn’t need to. They can put whatever they want in the game and every active player will switch to it anyway. But they are at least trying to make the game more interesting it seems, so props to them for that. I don’t think it will be enough to make me want to try SC2 again, but it’s at least sorta a little bit on the right track. Even if every addition was amazing, I’m still not sure if it will be possible for me and other BW diehards to get over the fundamental differences between SC2 and BW (unit AI, interface differences, high ground advantage, etc).
One take away is that the biggest change to HoTS will be that detection will be much more important this time around. Each race is getting a pretty powerful cloaked unit and so players will need to be much more careful with detection this time around, which will hopefully make the game a little more dynamic throughout all stages of the game.
Also I’d like to vent a little here: HoTS is the perfect excuse for blizzard to replace a lot of the awful sound effects in SC2 but instead they are adding in even more shitty sound effects. Just try to listen to the sound that locusts make when they attack and tell me that is good sound design.
Finally it will be hard for me to believe that blizzard will change the way that they balance the game in HoTS, which is one of the most off-putting things to me about SC2 currently. Ever since the beta blizzard has balanced the game by nerfing strong units or taking away micro-ability from units that made them more skill-intensive (such as changing void rays to make it almost useless to juggle them or buffing the range on roaches and queens to make terran harass shittier). BW was a game that was balanced (maybe not intentionally) by giving all races completely imba units and abilities. This made the game hard to play but very interesting and exciting at the same time.
If blizzard continues their path of nerfing everything that is deemed too powerful (and only during a small time span’s worth of observation) then SC2 will never be as dynamic as BW. If for example blizzard thinks that widow mines are too powerful vs zerg then I would like to see them make a zerg unit even more powerful or give zerg another ability instead of just nerfing the widow mine (and I would like them to do this only after many months of observing the metagame instead of jumping on every single trend within weeks). I wish blizzard would put more faith in the community/map makers to find their own solutions to the balance, which is quite a bit of where the fun comes from (at least in BW).
To sum it all up I think HoTS definitely seems like an improvement over vanilla SC2, but I do not think it is doing nearly enough interesting things to win over many BW diehards. I want to see more micro-able units and diverse army forms and strategies and tactics, and so far it doesn’t seem like the new units are enough to accomplish this in a meaningful way. Hopefully this will give a lot of you SC2 fans an idea of what sort of things I am looking for that SC2 currently doesn’t offer. I know a lot of you are thinking “well you just want the game to be BW!” which I don’t. I just want it to be as cool as BW and I use examples from BW because it is the only game that is as cool as itself .
Wow that was WAAAAY longer than it probably should of been lol