It’s said that when a butterfly’s wing flap rate is nerfed, a base half the map away can be laid to waste as a consequence. The same is true of practically any change made to StarCraft II - any one unit’s movement speed could wreak havoc in the eSport’s intricate metagame.
That knowledge could leave a creative mind wracked with inertia - but Blizzard’s dev team are used to it, and have learned to take cautious but firm steps in the direction of more consistently exciting matches. Today’s balance update is one such step.
The changes have been a long time coming. Blizzard first introduced them to their public test map nearly a month ago, and went through two iterations and a community-driven balance test tournament before they were comfortable with rolling out the patch. Its release now coincides with the beginning of ladder play for the WCS off-season - probably the closest thing StarCraft II’s year has to a competitive lull.
The patch most notably nerfs widow mines - used to spectacular effect during WCS 2013’s Korean semi-finals at the expense of ForGG:
Movement speed increased from 3.375 to 4.
Acceleration increased from 2 to 3.
Units that burrow or cloak while under the effects of Revelation will once again be revealed after unburrowing or uncloaking.
Vehicle and Ship Weapon upgrades have been combined.
- Siege Tank
Siege Mode attack period decreased from 3.0 to 2.8.
- Widow Mine
Sentinel Missiles now deal reduced damage to units caught within its splash radius based on their distance from the target:
40 damage within 1.25 radius.
20 damage from 1.25 to 1.5.
10 damage from 1.5 to 1.75.
- Roach Warren
The Tunneling Claws upgrade now increases burrowed Roach movement speed from 1.41 to 2.
Blizzard thanked players for the wealth of opinions they’d accrued through 20-odd days of testing.
“The vast amount of feedback that you, pro players, and the StarCraft II Community at-large offered during this testing period has been instrumental in our decision to move forward with the changes above,” they wrote.
The dev team pledged to share more of their thoughts on the game’s balance in the future. What do you think of the game’s spirit level, as it stands?