Blizzard tend to spend weeks in consultation with the StarCraft 2 community over even the smallest alteration to the curvature of an alien butterfly’s wings, mindful of the earthquakes it could cause internationally - especially as the StarCraft World Championship Series 2013 gets underway.
Emboldened by a week’s worth of testing, examining ladder stats, watching tournament matches and gathering feedback from pros, however, the dev team is now ready to tweak a single number in the game’s exquisite battle equation. Spore Crawler damage has been increased from 15 + 15 when fighting biological enemies to 15 + 30.
Blizzard have previously acknowledged that while Heart of the Swarm’s overall balance is “in a good place right now”, Zerg vs. Zerg matchups are hampered by the dominance of Zerglings and Mutalisks. This week’s Spore Crawler fix is the first step toward rectifying that, while keeping Mutalisk-based play viable.
“The increase to Spore Crawler damage will highly discourage players from using small packs of Mutalisks to attack a location where one or more Spore Crawlers are present,” explained Blizzard’s David Kim. “We feel this change will help bring peace of mind to Zerg players who attempt ground-based strategies since they won’t have to worry about Mutalisk harass early on.
“Furthermore, players who opt for ground units should now have time to build enough Spore Crawlers and other anti-air units that they can comfortably take a third or fourth base on most maps.”
Kim hopes that the move will encourage a greater range of strategies in ZvZ games.
“Worst case scenario, even if Muta/Ling/Bane is still the best way to play the matchup, it'll be easier to mix Infestors in due to Mutalisk offense being weaker and defense being stronger,” he said in a battle.net forum post.
“Which means games that go to Mutalisk + Infestors will be more common compared to only mutalisks, and from this point onwards, there's potential that strategies can branch out to other units.”
Blizzard are adopting a particularly slow pace in this case because of the potential far-reaching consequences for HotS’s balance - any major shift in the Zerg’s makeup would risk throwing off the even relationships they share with the game’s other two races.
“We'd much rather go in smaller steps to address this issue rather than tweaking something big that does something so drastic that could cause problems in other matchups,” concluded Kim.
Have any of you Zerg specialists noticed the snail-paced change in the face of the battlefield this week?