So yesterday David Kim released information about various buffs, nerfs, and design changes to 18 different units in Legacy of the Void with a release date planned for the end of the year. This change affects 8 Terran units, 6 Zerg units, and 4 Protoss units and, from what we have at the moment, seems to be some expansion-level-meta-breaking stuff. I really love how they’re doing this to keep things interesting and diverse. I’m excited to see the Balance Test Map that they’re releasing this Tuesday. I’m looking forward to playing around with the updated units, as well as the Matchmaking queue that they’re planning for it. With that said, I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on each of these changes and what they could mean for the game.
Disclaimer: All information in this document was taken from the 14/08/2016 post and some comments are referenced from David Kim’s interview at Dreamhack: Montreal on the same day. Any changes/updates to the patch later from this date may invalidate some information and/or opinions that are expressed in this post.
Warning: Some sections contain math.
First, I’ll start with my favorite of all races: Protoss. Protoss received the fewest changes and the goal, it seems, was to give Zealots a bigger role in the meta than they currently have, and to make changes for the Protoss late game for counterplay options. The first unit David Kim discusses is the Tempest.
- Increase supply count from 4 to 6.
- Anti-ground damage increased from 30 to 35, but no change to Anti-air damage.
- Anti-ground weapon range from 15 to 6.
- New ability: Disruption Sphere
- Immediately launches ball of energy and fires at target ground.
- Damages ground units and buildings in that location
- Deals 450 damage over a 32 second duration.
- 43 second cooldown.
- Area of Effect radius set to 1.95.
- 13 cast range.
- No friendly fire damage.
Now this is a major change. First, let’s talk about the supply count. Often times, especially with later tech tree units, the best way to discourage and invalidate the strength of a unit enmass is to increase its supply count. Why? Because it simply makes it so you can’t have as much of that unit or any required supporting units. For example, it is standard in PvT to get 6 Tempest to deal with Liberators, as 6 Tempests 2 shots Liberators with little overkill. Currently, that would be about 24 supply which isn’t a big deal, but with this update that would take 36 supply which is 6 less Gateway units you can have supporting them, which can make a huge difference. Also, if you wanted to, let’s say, have 6 High Templar supporting Tempests and go Mass Tempest (which is a common strategy versus meching Terrans), assuming 66 Probes and you wish to max out, you can currently support up to 30 Tempests. That sounds rather ridiculous. With this change, that count would decrease by 33% to 20 Tempests, which is a massive change in the viability of a mass Tempest strategy.
Another method they added to making mass Tempest play unviable is the significantly reduced range versus ground units from 15 to 6 (same range as a Stalker for comparison). While they buffed it’s damage vs ground from 30 to 35, this means that they’ll be within shooting range of all ground-to-air units outside of Widow Mines and Marines (which have a range of 5). The reason this also nerfs the viability of a mass Tempest strategy is because it makes the Tempest more of an anti-air supporting unit mainly used for destroying air-based siege units such as Brood Lords and Liberators.
To compensate for its loss in ground capability, they are proposing adding a new ability to the Tempest called Disruption Sphere. The way I think of Disruption Sphere is that it’s like a Liberator’s zone but does a lot less DPS and stays there without the need of the Liberator. This does 450 damage over 32 seconds (which is 14 DPS) over the radius of 1.95 (about the size of 2 Siege Tanks). This ability would mainly be used for zone control, sieging, and forcing ground-based siege units such as Lurkers, Siege Tanks, and Widow Mines to unsiege/unburrow and get out of the way, thus providing an avenue for attack.
With these changes, they’ve basically focused the role of the Tempest to be more of a siege and siege-breaking unit. I like the changes, I think the Disruption Sphere could probably do with a shorter duration, or have it so the Tempest has to stay within a certain range of it but doesn’t have to siege like a Liberator. Sure, these changes might make proxy Tempest less viable, but just imagine putting those Disruption Spheres in mineral lines with some late game Tempest harass (ignore the significantly long amount of time and cost investment it would take to get a single Tempest over to the opponent’s Mineral line just to stop mining from half of the Mineral line!
Shower thought: Hydras now outrange Tempests!
- The Research Charge upgrade will now increase the Zealot’s movement speed from 3.85 to 4.13.
This is a minor change that would help with the Zealot’s viability. This makes the Zealot move at the same speed as a Cyclone once Charge is researched and will help it both kite back versus Zerglings while also chasing down fleeing armies which the Adept has been better at due to it’s Psionic Transfer ability. Hopefully this brings more Chargelot playstyles into the meta, and will also be rather needed once you see the Hydralisk and Baneling changes in the Zerg section.
- Remove the Release Interceptor ability.
- Interceptor cost reduced from 25 minerals to 5 minerals, and autobuild is enabled from the start.
The Big Boy Carrier is back! They’re still trying to figure out what to do with the Carrier and Battlecruiser due to their lack of presence in any meta. This change removes the Release Interceptor ability that was added in LotV to try to help make the Carrier a stronger unit by giving it a way of retreating while leaving it’s interceptors behind to continue DPS. While you would think removing this ability would make Carriers worse, by reducing the cost of Interceptors from 25 Minerals to 5 Minerals, Carriers are now less of a mineral investment to make as losing Interceptors will not hurt the Protoss bank as much. This will be especially useful in late game, low economy scenarios where you can get starved out by the opponent by constantly killing the Carriers’ Interceptors to the point where the Protoss can no longer make them.
- New Ability: Shadow Stride
- Allows the Dark Templar to teleport a short distance.
- Research from Dark Shrine.
- 150/150 cost.
- 121 research time.
- Cooldown of 21 seconds.
- Creates a visible smoke-effect upon being cast.
Ahh, the grandaddy of controversial changes, Dark Templars have Blink! The idea behind this change was that Dark Templar harass is really strong when they first come out, but gets weaker as the game gets on and the opponent gets more and more detection around their bases. This upgrade takes a whole two minutes to research from the Dark Shrine with a 150/150 investment. Also, with a 21 second cooldown, I wouldn’t say this is something you’d really want to rush out. While Dark Templar with Blink sounds like the most broken thing on the planet, you have to remember that we’ve been using Dark Templars with Warp Prisms for months now, which is in almost every respect better than Dark Templar with Blink. Think about it. The Warp Prism grants Dark Templar pseudo-blink capabilities with no cooldown, can traverse landscapes that are not pathable via Shadow Stride, and can warp-in more Dark Templar! This will simply just strengthen Dark Templar that are not in a Warp Prism to give them an escape route so they aren’t just wasted if they wander into a base chalk full of detection. I like this change and I hope it stays in the game because I don’t believe it’s anywhere near as strong as many people are afraid it is.
Protoss vs Terran
I believe this match-up will change the most with this edition of LotV. Blizzard has taken steps to increase the viability of mech in LotV, and I believe they may have finally done it. With that in consideration, Protoss players will likely have to play versus mech very regularly. Here are the changes that will affect PvT:
- Anti-ground weapon heavily changed.
- Damage changed to 3 (+3 vs armored) damage, attacks once per .07 seconds, range increased from 5 to 6.
- Weapon upgrade amount changed from 2 to 1 to account for the new damage value.
- Changed weapon name to Tornado Blaster.
- No Anti-air weapon.
- Movement speed decreased from 4.72 to 4.13
- Lock On can now target air units only. Range is unchanged, and the ability now deals 160 damage over 14 seconds.
- Removed auto-cast for the Lock On ability.
- Supply cost decreased from 4 to 3.
- Increased health from 120 to 180.
- No longer requires a tech lab to build. The Cyclone can now be built with a reactor.
- The Cyclone auto-attack missile art is now smaller to avoid causing visual clutter. The missiles fired from the Lock-on ability are unchanged.
- Removed the Cyclone Lock On Damage upgrade from the Factory Tech Lab.
If there is anything in here that horrifically offends me, it is the fact that they’re changing the name to Tornado Blaster. Now it’s a Roomba with something called a Tornado Blaster. Tornado Blaster. I just had to put that out there.
What these changes boil down to is that the Cyclone will no longer be able to lock onto ground units, but it’ll do significantly more damage to armored units (aka most of the Protoss army). Previously, the Cyclone did 18 damage every 0.71 seconds, giving it 25.4 DPS with a range of 5. Now it’ll do 3 damage (+3 vs armored) every 0.07 seconds, which is 47.14 DPS vs non-armored targets and 85.71 DPS vs armored targets with a range of 6, thus killing Stalkers in 1.87 seconds and Adepts in 3.2 seconds. This, in conjunction with Hellions, will give Terran the mobility they need to play mech in the faster expanding economy of LotV. They’ll also be able to stand up to Stalker Adept armies when combining Cyclones with Hellbats. Let us also not forget that they removed the Tech Lab requirement for the Cyclone and are now allowing them to be built en masse from a Reactor with a 60 health increase (from 120 to 180), 20 more than a Siege Tank or Stalker. This unit will be very powerful in keeping the Protoss contained in their base and giving the meching Terran map control.
In response, Protoss will most likely have to utilize the Adept’s Psionic Transfer or Chargelots to get on top of the Cyclones and destroy them quickly. Even Immortals are just barely outmatched against the new Cyclone. With 85.71 DPS, it will take down an Immortal with its Barrier activated in 4.67 seconds while it takes an Immortal 5.53 seconds to kill a Cyclone with its 28.9 DPS.
Things get scarier when you start accounting for upgrades. In a 3/3 scenario, an Immortal will take down a Cyclone in 4.62 seconds while the Cyclone will continue to do the same 85.71 DPS to the Immortal’s health since it only receives +1 attack per upgrade as opposed to the Immortal’s +3 vs Armored, but will do a whopping 128.57 DPS to the Immortal’s Shields. This gives the Cyclone the ability to kill an Immortal in 3.89 seconds. If Protoss is 3/3/3, it’ll take the Cyclone 4.67 seconds again to kill the Immortal with the Barrier activated.
Luckily, if the DPS proves to be too high for the Cyclone it’s a lot easier to balance the DPS out since it attacks every 0.07 seconds. Just have to make minor adjustments to the attack speed to change the DPS of the unit without affecting the micro a noticeable amount.
- Sieged Siege Tank damage increased from 35 (+15 vs armored) to 40 (+30 vs armored).
- Sieged Siege Tanks can no longer be picked up by Medivacs.
There are two changes here that are going to make a big impact in how the Siege Tank is used in LotV. It seems they are trying to get the old BW identity of the Tank back. Currently, in LotV, the Siege Tank is very mobile due to its ability to be picked up by Medivacs and scurried around the map. They can be quickly repositioned if the Protoss finds an avenue of attack, but subsequently the Siege Tanks have to be weaker because otherwise it’d be super silly. The bigger consideration of the removal of the ability to lift up sieged Siege Tanks with Medivacs is actually in TvT, which I will not talk about cause that match up makes me sad and I’m not a Terran player.
The biggest impact in PvT, though, is the increase of damage from 35 (+15 vs armored) to 40 (+30 vs armored). This makes Siege Tanks do 70 damage versus armored units instead of the old 50. To show this impact, let’s do some quick math. A Stalker has 80 health and 80 Shields, giving it a total of 160 hit points. The old Siege Tank required 4 shots to kill a Stalker, while the new Siege Tank only requires 3, and 2 shots put the Stalker in the 20 health range. That’s a big deal. One shell almost completely depletes a Stalker of all of it’s shields. But let’s also not forget the 5 damage buff to non armored units. The Adept has 80 health and 70 shields, for a total of 150 hit points. This means it currently takes 5 shots from a Siege Tank to kill an Adept. With this patch, that number would reduce to 4 shots, leaving the Adept with only 30 health remaining after the 3rd shot. This makes it a big deal when it comes to engaging into Siege Tank lines as your army will evaporate faster due to the damage buff. Specifically with the Adept, there’s an added bonus of only a 25% overkill, so the Siege Tank is not wasting too much of its DPS to finish off Adepts.
Also consider that this damage buff is also a nerf in a way. Siege Tanks do friendly fire, so if you are able to Shade Adepts on top of the Siege Tank or drop some Zealots/Immortals onto them, they’ll quickly destroy each other. A Siege Tank has 160 health, so the same rules to the Stalker also apply to the Siege Tank. Currently it takes 4 shots for a Siege Tank to kill another Siege Tank, this patch would make it so it only requires 3 Shots. If you drop a few Zealots in a clump of Siege Tanks, they begin to destroy themselves in seconds.
- Remove the +light damage for the Anti-air attack.
- Anti-air splash for the Javelin Missile Launchers radius increased from 0.5 to 0.6.
- Thor High Impact Payload Mode: The Anti-air weapon, 250mm Punisher Cannons, will now be prioritized before the Anti-ground weapon, Thor’s Hammer.
The Liberator change is nice as it makes Phoenix a more viable strategy in countering them aside from Void Rays or Tempests. It’s more of an issue in TvZ with Liberator versus Mutalisk, so it’s not something that affects us as much. With mech usage, you are unlikely to be massing that much Phoenix anyways. The current solution has been mass Tempest (which I discuss in the Tempest section) but this change does that affect that.
One thing to note, however, that Liberators will be less of a counter to the Carriers’ Interceptors. Interceptors have 40 health, and previously the Liberator did 5 (x2) damage + 2 (x2) vs light, which is 14 damage per shot. This would 3 shot Interceptors, but with the removal of the bonus damage vs light they will deal 10 damage, thus requiring 4 shots. Including the reduced price of Interceptors from 25 minerals to 5 minerals, this will make them less of a counter.
The Thor change will probably have it see play versus Protoss mass air strategies though. The splash radius increase will help the Thor against clumped air units such as Void Rays, Phoenixes, or Interceptors. The second change just makes it less clunky for a Terran to use Thor as a primary anti-air unit.
- Removed the Fusion Core requirement for the Hyperflight Rotors upgrade.
Could be completely broken, could be completely fine, I honestly do not know. If you scout Banshees, often times a good response is to make an Oracle to use Revelation on them as an Observer cannot keep up with the speed upgrade. You can then make a few Phoenixes to kill the Banshees and prevent damage. I don’t think changing this requirement will really hinder that response since you can most likely still prepare in time before the upgrade finishes.
- Ground mode auto-attack now deals +8 mechanical damage.
This is a good change, in my opinion. It makes Vikings less of a dead weight in PvT. Currently, if the Terran builds a lot of Vikings versus your air-army, you just use your 12-16 Warpgates to re-max on a Gateway army and overrun the Terran. This will make it so Stalkers wouldn’t be as good in that scenario.
- Energy bar removed.
- Yamato Cannon and Tactical Jump no longer require energy to cast. Instead, each has a separate cooldown.
- Yamato Cannon cooldown is 71 seconds.
- Tactical Jump Cooldown is 71 seconds.
- Removed the Behemoth Reactor upgrade (energy upgrade).
I’m glad Blizzard is showing the Battlecruiser some love. The removal of the Energy bar makes it so that Feedback cannot be used on Battlecruisers, which was a very strong method that Protoss had to deal with this unit. Now the Battlecruiser will have an opportunity to fire it’s Yamato cannon versus the Protoss’s army, whereas before Protoss would Feedback the Battlecruiser before it got a chance to use its energy. This might make the fight more even in the Terran’s favor, but I am not confident if this is quite enough, though.
- Auto Turret damage increased from 16 to 24.
This makes Raven harass and defense quite a bit stronger, but nothing that would be Meta-level shifting. Though if mech does become a part of the meta with this patch, like I expect it to be, then this could end up being a really powerful tool Terran can use. It’ll make them better at dealing with Dark Templar harass since the DT’s will melt to the Auto Turret and will be very strong when offensively placed in Mineral lines.
Protoss vs Zerg
The goal of their Zerg changes, I believe, was to weaken Roach Ravager and strengthen other Zerg options. In fact, this patch proposes changes that I believe will mostly remove Roach Ravager from the meta entirely (outside of maybe ZvZ). Let’s get down to business!
- Swarm Host cost reduced from 150/100 to 100/75.
- Increased Locust Swoop range from 4 to 6.
This change is interesting because David Kim’s sole reasoning for this buff is so people will actually use the Swarm Host so he can figure out what to do with them. It’s pretty funny if you ask me. I think Swarm Host harass is actually pretty powerful in the late game since it basically guarantees a base snipe or the evaporation of a mineral line, but I don’t think that this unit is really required for that since you can just do that with Metabolic Boost upgraded Zerglings anyways.
- Add +Armored flag.
This is a huge nerf to the Ravager. Now Stalkers will do 14 damage instead of 10 and Immortals will do a whopping 50 damage instead of 20 versus them. Since Ravagers only have 120 health, Immortals can now take them down in 3 shots instead of 6. Stalkers will now be doing 14 damage versus Ravagers as opposed to 10, taking 9 shots to kill a Ravager compared to the previous 12. I believe this could single-handedly remove massing Ravagers as an option, though having a few for Corrosive Biles may still be good.
- Hydralisk attack range increased from 5 to 6.
- The Evolve Muscular Augments will continue to give +1 range to the Hydralisk, as well as a base movement speed bonus of 25%.
- Changed the Hydralisk movement speed to be affected the same as other units while on Creep. Muscular Augments now gives a 25% speed boost both on and off of Creep.
This is a massive buff to the Hydralisk. Not only do they now out-range Adepts pre-upgrade, but now they also outrange Stalkers post-upgrade. This, combined with a 25% base movement speed buff and an additional 25% increase, kiting with Hydralisks will be significantly stronger versus Protoss Gateway armies. Here is a table of the Hydralisk speed changes:
|Current Hydralisk Movement Speed||Post Patch Hydralisk Movement Speed|
|Unupgraded Off Creep: 3.15||Unupgraded Off Creep: 3.94|
|Unupgraded On Creep: 4.725||Unupgraded On Creep: 4.925|
|Upgraded Off Creep: 3.94||Upgraded Off Creep: 4.925|
|Upgraded On Creep: 4.725||Upgraded On Creep: 6.156|
- Health increased from 30 to 40.
The goal of this change was to make it so Protoss would have to split versus Banelings instead of just powering them down. I’m not sure how much of a difference this will make, though, since Adepts will still take 2 shots to kill a Baneling and a Stalker will still require 4 shots as well. I do think this change is nice, but coupled with the Hydralisk change, Ling/Bling/Hydra is looking to be an incredibly strong composition in PvZ.
- Has a collision radius while burrowed (but smaller than normal).
- Can cast all abilities while burrowed.
- New Ability: Deep Tunnel
- 50 mana cost.
- Can cast anywhere on the map with vision.
- Provides an audible warning to the enemy when Deep Tunnel begins.
I believe the first change is to make it so that they cannot stack on top of each other, but I could be wrong there. The other two changes, however, are what really affects the unit. A combination of a global Blink along with being able to cast abilities while burrowed, Zerg could send an Overseer into your main and send Burrowed Infestors inside to unleash Fungal Growth or Infested Terrans onto your Probes and then Deep Tunnel their way back out. In the case of Fungal Growth, it would cost a total of 175 Energy for the Infestor to get in and out of the Protoss base. With Infested Terrans, the Infestor can spawn 4 Infested Swarm Eggs before retreating for a remainder of 0 Energy. Luckily, this ability makes a sound akin to the Nydus Worm. We’re not sure how long it takes for the Infestor to complete the Deep Tunnel, so we need to wait until the Balance Test Map is released to figure out how much of a reaction time you will have.
- Range reduced from to 11 to 10.
This change was made so that the Thor would be more viable versus Brood Lords, but it’s nice for us Protoss players because it makes getting Tempests slightly less of a requirement to deal with them. I will expect Tempests continuing to be the best choice versus a Brood Lord transition from Zerg, however.
Since I already mentioned all of the Protoss changes above, I will not be re-introducing them here. I am going to give a general overview of how I feel the matchup will change and my thoughts on the matter.
With PvP, I don’t believe much of anything will change. Dark Templar harass in the late game will get stronger, that is for certain, but the Tempest change doesn’t really do much as Protoss doesn’t have a lot of siege units that would get abused by its Disruption Sphere. The new Carrier might make sky toss a more common route for an end game army, and the Chargelot buff will increase the strength of Chargelots in the matchup, but aside from these PvP will likely be pretty similar with the current meta compositions of Blink/Disruptor, Adet/Sentry/Immortal, and Chargelot/Archon/Immortal.