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The 11th StarCraft 2 beta patch, a gameplay-focused update, introduces some interesting balance changes all across the board. Unlike any previous patch, Blizzard has decided to clarify the rationale behind the adjustments in an extensive Situation Report post. The result is a nice insight into the balancing process and the Blizzard’s goals with the new changes to the game.

We’ll combine the patch notes with relevant info from the situation report in order to present the full picture.

Balance Changes

TERRAN

Battlecruiser


The build time has been decreased from 110 to 90.


Situation Report:

We are trying to make this ship a little more useful. In reality this unit is easily countered by Corruptor, Void Ray, or Viking which may already be in play by the time it arrives, but we think it might see a little more play if it’s just easier to build.


Fusion Core


The build time has been decreased from 80 to 65.


Hellion


The range has been increased from 5 to 6.


Situation Report:


This is not an actual change to the area effect of the weapon. The weapon was always range 6, but it would only acquire targets at range 5 so it would get a little bit of splash that would hit enemies behind its initial target. By making the weapon range 6 it is easier to shoot and run from enemy units. It does make the splash a little less useful if you are just using the “attack move” command.


The Hellion’s range adjustment is in line with Blizzard’s recent statements about its plans to increase the responsiveness and micro-oriented benefits for certain StarCraft 2 units, Hellions being mentioned specifically.

Planetary Fortress


The splash damage now originates from the center of the target, rather than the impact location near the unit in order to maintain more reliable splash damage.


Situation Report:


Splash



We have changed how splash works for several units across the game to make it always hit the dead center of the target unit. Previously splash was centered on the front of the target unit. This makes splash generally more effective, though against certain large targets (buildings, Thors, Ultralisks) you will now not get any splash damage since the splash radius will be contained entirely within the radius of the large target.


Raven


Seeker Missile range has been decreased from 9 to 6.

Seeker Missile splash radius has been decreased from 2.4 to 2.

Seeker Missile upgrade no longer requires Fusion Core.


Situation Report:


We are hoping to see some more Seeker missiles without unbalancing the unit. At the same time we want to reduce the effectiveness of Seeker missile in 2v2 games where mass Ravens have (on occasion) been a problem.

Siege Tank


Life increased from 150 to 160.

Siege Mode splash damage now originates from the center of the target, rather than the impact location near the unit in order to maintain more reliable splash damage.


Situation Report:


Siege Tanks are seeing good use in several match-ups but we still think they could be a little tougher so they can maybe get in one more shot during big fights.

The Tank’s hit point increase comes to address the simple and obvious truth – for a tank, the Terran Siege Tank is a mighty fragile unit. Ironically, tanks can’t tank at all, and more often than not, a Terran Bio-ball is used for tanking damage while the tanks deliver their AoE blows.

Thor


Ground damage decreased from 45 to 30.

Ground rate of fire improved from 1.93 to 1.28.

Air damage changed from 8 (+4 Light) to 6 (+6 Light).

250mm Strike Cannons are now an upgrade at the Factory Tech Lab.

250mm Strike Cannons research now costs 150/150 and 110 seconds.

250mm Strike Cannons energy cost increased from 100 to 150.

Anti-Air splash damage now originates from the center of the target, rather than the impact location near the unit in order to maintain more reliable splash damage.


Situation Report:


The damage change reduces the Thor’s opening burst, which will mean that some units will be able to shoot a little longer before being destroyed. The increase in rate of fire means the damage-per-second remains the same, but it does change a few relationships. Thors are no longer as effective against Roaches (for example) without fire support from Marauders.

The Thor Strike Cannons have become an upgrade to try to help out the Ultralisk, who is countered so hard by this attack that we see very few Ultralisks in Terran vs. Zerg. This is (of course) not enough to really change that relationship, but we have some more plans for the Ultralisk in the next patch.
The anti-air changes make Thors a little more clear in their role as an anti-light AA weapon which gives more value to Vikings and Marines.

All three Massive ground units – the Terran Thor, Protoss Colossus and Zerg Ultralisk have received significant adjustments to their damage output. The Thor, being a mega-hard counter to the Ultralisk due to the stun and focused heavy damage effect of its Strike Cannons ability, has gone the way of the Marauder, and now requires a research to match its pre-patch state. It’s worthwhile to note that with this change, the Thor will no longer one-shot Hydralisks.


PROTOSS


Archon


The splash radius has been increased from 0.8 to 1.

Splash damage now originates from the center of the target, rather than the impact location near the unit in order to maintain more reliable splash damage.


Situation Report:


This minor buff to the Archon makes it a little bit more useful but doesn’t really change a lot of its core relationships. We still view the Archon as a recycle for a High Templar who is out of mana and not a core unit that you will build unless you are facing very specific opposition (like mass Mutalisks for example).


Colossus


The damage has been decreased from 20 to 15.

The rate of fire has been improved from 2.2 to 1.65.


Situation Report:


The changes to the Colossus damage and rate of fire are similar to the changes to the Thor. They reduce the burst damage from the Colossus so fewer units will die in the initial blast and get to shoot a little bit longer before they are hit by more blasts. The damage is lower, but the damage per second is DPS is the same.


Phoenix


Can now attack while moving.


Situation Report:


This is a huge change that allows a Phoenix to dance around Mutalisks and other air units and attack them while moving. Phoenix always did hard-counter Mutalisks, but now even a very small number of Phoenix can challenge a very large number of Mutalisks so long as they are willing to attack and move away. Use your Phoenix to keep out of the Mutalisk attack range while firing yourself and you can do a lot of damage to a pack of Mutalisks.

Sentry


The damage has been decreased from 8 to 6.


Situation Report:


We are seeing a lot of Force Fields which we really, really like. We don’t want to see fewer Force Fields, but we do want to see a higher cost for those Force Fields. By reducing Sentry damage we believe that Protoss players will have to be more careful about the number of Sentry they make.

The Sentry damage reduction is reminiscent of the Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos caster nerf several years ago. Before the nerf, it was common to mass casters because of the relatively high damage output coupled with bonus ability spam such builds enabled. With a 25% damage nerf, the Sentry’s damage per cost is significantly reduced, forcing Protoss players to not rely on them as much as they did before. While the Sentry was previously an important anti-Mutalisk unit for the Protoss, the Phoenix buff will certainly help balance this change.

ZERG

Brood Lord


Life has been decreased from 275 to 225.

Armor has been decreased from 2 to 1.


Situation Report:


Broodlords are awesome. They needed to be a little weaker. They should still be pretty scary.


Corruptor


Corruptor damage changed from 12 (+10 Massive) to 14 (+6 Massive).

Corruptor speed increased from 2.75 to 2.9531

Corruption ability redesigned:

Single target.

Increases damage taken by 20%.

Lasts 30 seconds.

Costs 100 energy.

Range 6.

Cannot target structures.


Situation Report:


All of these changes are a buff to the Corruptor. You will pay less gas for a similar level of Corruptor fire power. The Corruptor is faster and more able to keep up with your Mutalisks. In addition its special ability has changed. You no longer use Corruptors just to stun important enemy buildings but you can weaken important enemy units on the battlefield to make them more vulnerable to attack by both your air and ground units.


Infestor


Neural Parasite is now an upgrade at the Infestation Pit.

Neural Parasite research costs 150/150 and 110 seconds.

Neural Parasite can now target Air units.

Neural Parasite energy cost increased from 50 to 100.


Situation Report:


The changes to Neural Parasite are there to try to protect the Ultralisk from being mind controlled too easily. It is also consistent with what we think the power level of the ability is against Thor and other units. We have also buffed the ability to allow it to target air units so you can use it as a defense against Void Rays.


Spine Crawler


The root time has been increased from 6 to 12.


Situation Report:


At some levels of play we are seeing spine crawlers used to protect a Zerg player until he can advance to some dangerous technology (like Mutalisks). In these cases players are using Spine Crawlers almost exclusively to defend themselves and the ability to move the Crawler as a way to protect not only their base but their expansion as well. We want there to be a higher cost to this strategy and more risk associated with choosing to go “Only Spine Crawler.”


Spore Crawler


The root time has been increased from 6 to 12.


Ultralisk


Damage has been increased from 18 to 25.


Situation Report:


We are buffing the Ultralisk, but we don’t think this buff is sufficient. Expect more changes to the Ultralisk in the next patch.

As a concept, the Ultralisk is awesome. It warms our heart to see Ultralisks used in high-level gameplay. Few effects can match a giant, 600 HP-strong, über-armored biological monster dishing melee splash damage. However, the Ultralisk’s cost and its front-line battle position (unlike the Terran Thor and Protoss Colossus) make it a prime target for strong single-target effects like Neural Parasite and the stunning/damaging Strike Cannons – both being nerfed in the recent patch.

The patch also brings numerous minor bug fixes, hotkey swaps and leftie key layout changes – all found here.

All in all, this patch feels like an attempt to refine the game, pushing players from all races to diversify their builds and incorporate different units into their army. It will be interesting to see whether Blizzard succeeds in doing this and what other changes are in store, especially for the Ultralisk!

    

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