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The official Mothership discussion continues on the Battle.net thread and in the comments section of our post. We have compiled some valuable input from our commentators for each of the questions asked by Karune. The discussion will continue until the end of the month, so our readers are encouraged to continue sharing their thoughts and ideas.

1) Do you think the Protoss Mothership should be a unique unit (1 per player maximum) or should you be able to build more than one? Why?

Our reader and commentator, Ken, says:

If it will have the 3 abilities, TimeBomb, Pcracker and Black hole, then it has to be unique. If it only gets Time bomb and the cloak ability then it may be reproduced en masse. Because if it has the 3 abilities, it will become the main protoss capital ship, carriers will become its support.


Bunny is a little more decisive in his answer:

It is a great unit in a RPG/RTS or some flash strategy game, but not in a professionally played, super-balanced battlefield.

No unit should be restricted – because if it is, it means it is special, and there is no place for special units in a macro-oriented RTS battlefield.


Charles sums it up nicely:

I am both for this and against it. The unique unit ability is a nice concept to set the Protoss apart from the other races. However, it needs to be balanced carefully in order for it to be effective. Too powerful a unit and the game might be reduced to a tech-tree race (or in a Protoss vs Protoss scenario, a question of who gets to cast Black Whole first). Too weak and the one-unit limit is not justified.


Design-wise, it would be the simplest to make it a non-unique unit. Weaker than its unique form but ultimately easier to balance since playtesters can think of its effectiveness when more than one unit is sent to the battlefield and can think of counters to it (in the same way that the Thor is weak against mobile units). Balancing a unique is more difficult because playtesters have to ask how big of an impact the loss of that unit (or its presence) has in the game, much like Heroes in WC3 singlehandedly won or lost games (but are no means “required” to win the game).


2) What do you think about the Mothership’s abilities? (Time Bomb, Cloaking Field, Planet Cracker, Black Hole (currently out))

Bunny raises an important point:

Wonderful and original ideas … If they belong to spellcasters that can be shot down with ease, or act as support units. Not a flying armored monstrosity.


Charles breaks the abilities down and analyzes them:

Before we ascertain whether these abilities are balanced or not, we must first make a decision whether the Mothership is unique or not. Some abilities might be balanced if the unit is unique while others not.


Black Hole: This is perhaps the most controversial ability. The biggest problem I have with this in either scenario is that it mimics an already existing ability: psionic storm. Psionic storm damages units in a given area and Black Hole is a glorified ability that is limited to flying units (I presume). Instead of damaging units, it destroys them over a short period of time, which makes it a game-breaker. If we nerf it to make it deal damage, then it would be okay but that would displace psionic storm in terms of its niche. The other problem is that if it retains its “destroy all” ability, the game boils down to a question of who uses it first or who has enough energy to use it at the crucial time (in the case of a mothership vs mothership fight).


Time Bomb: Time Bomb for me is okay. Balancing this “invulnerability” is more tweakable, everything from increasing/decreasing the duration to letting some attacks through (perhaps concussive damage penetrates the shield, etc.) to increasing/decreasing the radius. If the Mothership is non-unique, the ability is more prone to abuse (attacking with a swarm of “invincible” units) and in certain ways might resemble the Steam Tank rush of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos.


Planet Cracker: While in many ways similar to a ground psionic storm, the mobility aspect (you have to travel there) makes it different enough for me. I think my biggest issue is that why is this ability coming in only now. It seems like the Planet Cracker ability is useful against units in the lower tech tree or ground units in general but the Mothership unit overall has little to compensate against the higher tech-tree units (such as a battleship), especially if the Mothership is going to be a unique unit. Overall it’s an relatively okay ability depending on what other abilities the unit acquires.


Cloak: The first thing I have to ask is how is the cloak implemented. Ground units only? Only when the Mothership is stationary? Or does it behave like the old Arbiter? It’s an ability that can be improved upon but if its use is merely to cloak units, then the Mothership seems it’s designed to tank more than anything else (something the Arbiter couldn’t do well).


3) Additional Feedback you would like to give:

Battlarmd says:

Protoss should have the Mothership.

It fits the protoss moto of ‘few and expensive units’, and seeing how terrans have a very well rounded army, the mothership will be how protoss can deal with them mid-game to late-game.


Cloaking might be too much. I think the cloaking of units should belong to another unit, another flier I suppose. but the mothership is a very cool NEW idea for SC2 for protoss, and it also expands on the philosophy of the protoss.


Would it be too strong?


I don’t think so. Everything can be balanced. Perhaps have the blackhole ability changed to something else, like.. a gravity field that suck fliers to it for a while but not destroy them. But seriously though, if the black hole spell takes a while to start up, then people who ‘cannot’ dodge it are those with poor micro, and they SHOULD lose the battle, the mothership might be too newbie friendly, if that is the case, but any Vet players will know how to surround the slow moving mothership and just EMP and yamato it twice. there’s one ONE of it, so I hardly see an issue.


Charles suggests a few other interesting abilities that might fit the Mothership:

Pylon Field: Perhaps it’s prone to abuse if it’s a non-unique unit but as a unique unit, perhaps the Mothership can have a Pylon field radius around it much in the same way a Phase Prism can act as a Pylon. Thus it also promotes the Protoss’s Warp In ability and giving a reason why the Mothership is indeed called a Mothership (a mobile HQ of sorts without deposing the Nexus).


“Energy Field”: The Mothership can easily have an “aura ability” that boosts the strength of nearby units. This can be up to you, whether it’s increased shield regeneration rate, a temporary armor boost, damage boost, attack speed boost, etc.


Reverse Warp: Since the Protoss have a “warp” theme (and why we have a Black Hole ability), maybe instead of destroying units in the Black Hole, we can transport them instead to another visible location, sort of the reverse of what the Arbiter used to do (can’t target allied/personal units).


Time Warp: Perhaps instead of slowing down bullets, the Mothership can instead move fast for a short period of time. (Best if it’s implemented as a unique unit.) Everything else moves in slow-motion and the Mothership suddenly becomes more maneuverable and can attack at a more rapid rate


Mercutio says:

The Mothership is an interesting concept that Blizzard ultimately might not be able to pull off given the severe constraints they’re working under for SC2.


My personal thoughts on the matter is that, given that we’re sans Arbiter these days, it would make sense to make this thing rather like a super-Arbiter. Give it the Cloak to bring a bigass fleet with itself, the Time Bomb to defend itself and said fleet, moderately powerful air and ground attacks, and a nice thick shield (if it’s unique, said Shield should be thick enough to absorb several Yamato blasts, a direct hit by a Nuke, or a fairly decently sized pack of Scourge, assuming we have Scourge still) and turn it loose.


The Black Hole in my opinion simply won’t make it into the game in the form we saw. Something that instantly destroys all aerial units within an AOE, given the fact that unless you are King of Micro your fleets have a tendency to bunch up, is simply too powerful and has the potential to end entire games with the click of one button when you annihilate five thousand minerals worth of Battlecruisers/Carriers and their escorts. Now, what MIGHT make sense in this area, if we propose to make it a super-Arbiter, is to make the Black Hole like the old Stasis Field; it locks everything down completely immobile for a time, but you can’t damage anything so effected. Sort of like an offensive Time Bomb.

An honorable mention goes out to aaron, who thinks the Mothership deserves a major overhaul. Check out his comprehensive comment.


Keep the comments coming – they are reported directly to Karune and Blizzard. This is an important period in the game’s development, where StarCraft fans can effectively improve the game they will end up playing.


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