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StarCraft 2 Beta Reset Hits Along With Patch 6

Blizzard have gone through with their recently announced plans: Battle.net has been wiped clean, and everything that has happened on the gaming service over the past month is gone. The reset included user accounts, friend lists, and all game records and rankings. Essentially, we’re starting from scratch.

While the reset was expected, the broad balance patch was quite surprising (as balance patches often are!). Patch #6 has some meaningful gameplay changes as well as general improvements to StarCraft 2’s interface and Battle.net’s social interaction.

General

  • You can now report misconduct or block communication with a player after completion of a game by right-clicking on the offending player’s name in the score screen and choosing Report Abuse or Block Communication.
  • You can now view any player’s profile after completion of a game by right-clicking on their name in the score screen and choosing View Profile.

The aforementioned feature is not just welcome, but almost “crucial”. Until this point, checking out your rivals’ profiles included adding them to your friends list first, clicking around to bring up their stats, and then removing them – a cumbersome process that does not fit in with the sleek usability that Blizzard aspires to with B.net. Unfortunately, the new “View Profile” option still requires you to add the player to your friend’s list first, but this will quite likely be changed in a future patch.

  • Improved 2v2 arranged team matchmaking so games are found more quickly.
  • Improved replay functionality so missing maps will be downloaded from Battle.net when you view a replay.
  • Korea: Improved the logic for the age gate functionality.
  • Updated unit and ability tooltips to be accurate in all regions.
  • Improved the visibility of units on zerg creep.
  • Improved the visibility of team colors for protoss units using warp-in to help distinguish between multiple protoss players.
  • Improved the system that handles promotion and relegation between Leagues.
  • Improved the Favored functionality to more accurately portray Even matches and display properly in the score screen.
  • Curiously enough, on my very first placement match, with zero games under my virtual belt, I was listed as “favored” on my launch screen and as an even opponent on my rival’s screen.

    The patch introduced significant balance adjustments across the board, covering all three races; 11 units and 5 buildings in total.

    GENERAL


    Pathing has been improved so units can now properly block ramps and choke points.
    Made a change to how zerg creep affects doodads, such as trees, to prevent players from seeing the starting location of zerg players through the fog of war.

    Some units (namely, Zerglings) were able to slip through ramps that were completely blocked by units if the player clicked persistently enough.

    TERRAN


    Viking


    Cost changed from 125 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas to 150 Minerals and 75 Vespene Gas.


    Ghost


    Cost changed from 100 Minerals and 200 Vespene Gas to 150 Minerals and 150 Vespene Gas.
    EMP Round radius decreased from 3 to 2.


    Factory


    Cost decreased from 200 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas to 150 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas.


    Tech Lab


    Cost decreased from 50 Minerals and 50 Vespene Gas to 50 Minerals and 25 Vespene Gas.

    Terran were the most gas-starved race, hindering their ability to use the higher-tier options and limiting many games to the now-infamous M&M&M/Bioball play, involving stimmed Marines and Marauders and Medivacs healing/mobilizing them as they lay terror all across the battlefield. The Terran changes brought in this patch will encourage players to use mech builds more often, leading to more variety in viable strategies.

    Ghosts and their EMP ability – an instant 100 damage AoE attack against shields – are a staple in Terran versus Protoss games. Previously, one Ghost was too often all that was needed to nullify the shields of the Protoss army throughout an entire game, and so it was not surprising to see it nerfed to 4/9 of its total AoE. Obviously, Blizzard is trying to encourage players to get more Ghosts out to the field, and we will not be surprised to see the Ghost’s cost bumped down a bit more and beyond just having its resources shifted around to make the unit less gas-dependent.

    SCV


    Life decreased from 60 to 45.

    This change was brought by as a response to a recent flood of Marine/SCV all-in rushes, especially popular in Korea. After getting 6+ Marines, the Terran player would quickly send them and most of his SCVs straight to the enemy base. Since the unit AI prioritizes attacking workers over other units, the SCVs functioned as a tough 60 hp meat-shield for the attacking Marines, allowing them to take down enemy units from a safe distance.

    Unfortunately, this change makes Terran vulnerable to early game harassment and hurts their role on the battlefield, where they are used to repair and construct turrets and bunkers. The SCV is the only worker that remains vulnerable during the construction of buildings, and so harassment with the first scouting worker has become a real pain for Terran players, delaying the first crucial Supply Depot or Barracks for many seconds. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard sticks to this change or finds a more creative solution that does not change one of the fundamental differences between the races’ workers – the SCV’s 50% higher health.

    Bunker


    Build time decreased from 40 seconds to 30 seconds.


    Marine


    Build time increased from 20 seconds to 25 seconds.


    Reactor


    Build time increased from 25 seconds to 50 seconds.

    These changes, along with the previous ones, are clearly an attempt to make the early Terran bioball less dominant. Is Blizzard trying to encourage players to make do with less Marines, but keep them surviving longer in Bunkers?

    The Protoss had several damage output modifications and a few surprising nerfs, especially to the somewhat underused Dark Templar.

    PROTOSS


    Colossus


    Thermal Lances damage decreased from 23 to 20.

    Such a subtle change, such complex consequences. Here are just a few aspects of the Colossus’ recent adjustment:

    • No longer one-shots Terran Marines
    • Still instagibs Zerglings
    • Stimmed Marines die with a single pass
    • Stimmed Marines with a Combat Shields upgrade survive
    • A full Colossus attack was changed from a total of 46 to 40 damage – meaning that SCVs are still the only workers that can survive a Colossus attack
    • Hydralisks can now withstand 3 full Colossus double beam passes

    Observer


    Cost increased from 25 Minerals and 75 Vespene Gas to 50 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas.
    Build time increased from 33 seconds to 40 seconds.

    Observers are arguably the best scouts/detectors in the game. Since they no longer require a pre-req building like in StarCraft 1 and since Protoss now rely heavily on the Robotics Facility, there’s no reason for this unit to be as cheap.

    Stalker


    Particle Disruptors damage increased from 8 (+6 Armored) to 10 (+4 Armored).
    Weapon upgrade damage decreased from +1 (+1 Armored) to +1 (+0 Armored).

    Another interesting change. Stalkers are not a particlarly good standalone unit. While they are versatile, inexpensive and often form the backbone of the Protoss army, they are not outstanding on their own against anything, don’t have too much of a damage output and can’t endure a lot of damage either. Un-microed Stalkers are dead money – just about every other ranged units defeats them in a head-on clash.

    Yep, this scary kick-ass arachnid is actually the familiar Protoss Stalker.

    Everything kills stalkers, and their true kickass shines through only when they are combined with other units, when they dance around and kite, or when they blink successfully to carry out hit and run attacks or chase down inferior enemy forces. However, Blizzard have decided that the Stalkers are just a tad too underwhelming, and so their damage is now more uniform, their use increased against non-armored units. They will take less shots to kill many important units, like Marines, Hydralisks, Zealots, Zerglings, Reapers, and Mutalisks.

    Dark Templar


    Armor type changed from Biological-Psionic to Biological-Psionic-Light.


    High Templar


    Armor type changed from Biological-Psionic to Biological-Psionic-Light.

    Dark Shrine


    Build time increased from 80 seconds to 100 seconds.
    Cost increased from 100 Minerals and 200 Vespene Gas to 100 Minerals and 250 Vespene Gas.

    The Zerg have received relatively minor changes in this patch:

    ZERG


    Baneling


    Volatile Burst damage increased from 15 (+20 Light) to 20 (+15 Light).


    Roach


    Burrowed regeneration rate decreased from 10 to 5.
    Upgraded burrowed regeneration bonus decreased from +20 to +10.

    Roaches present a serious balance problem only on the novice and pro levels, but remain a fairly balanced unit for most of Battle.net’s population. A well executed Roach rush spells certain doom for Protoss newbies, while on the pro level, uber-APMs allow some insane roach 0burrow dancing. This makes the units extremely hard to kill even with Psi Storms placed directly on top and repeatedly. For most, the unit will continue to function as intended.

    Banelings, the only unit to inflict bonus damage to light units for the Zerg, has been given an upgrade in the form on a shift in damage to a more standardized attack. This makes them somewhat more useful against armored targets rather than only against masses of low-tier light units such as Zealots, Marines, Zerlings and Hydralisks.

    Overall, it seems that Blizzard are taking the feedback from beta players to heart. Many have complained that the game has shifted the focus to hard-counters and that soft-counters and micromanagement are less important than they were in StarCraft 1. With the previous change to the Viking – shifting more of its damage from anti-armor to normal – and to the Banelings and Stalkers now, StarCraft 2 is slowly finding a balance between the rock-paper-scissors formula and other, more advanced aspects of the game that allow its gameplay to transcend such simple mechanics.

    Factory
    Cost decreased from 200 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas to 150 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas.

    Tech Lab
    Cost decreased from 50 Minerals and 50 Vespene Gas to 50 Minerals and 25 Vespene Gas.

    Reactor
    Build time increased from 25 seconds to 50 seconds.

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