What Zerg’s Want
The most important thing to consider when looking at balance updates is what we want to change about the game on a large scale. In terms of what Zerg players want. I would like to preface this by saying these are the things I personally would like to see a change in most based on what I have seen at the professional level as well as my own play. There are many Zerg players who would like different things changed.
I think the most desired changes revolve around the late-game ZvP match-up and air units in general. Mothership, carrier, high Templar/voidray based armies are extremely frustrating for most Zerg players to deal with as the ideal Zerg army to deal with this composition requires a lot of micro and a variety of units. Right now, most Zerg players try to deal with this composition using a combination of infestors, vipers, corruptors, ultralisks, brood lords and massive amounts of spore crawlers. To win a fight Zerg players generally need good abducts, fungal growth casting as well as neural parasite to somewhat neutralize the Protoss damage output.
The oracle has been a powerful Protoss unit for a long time, but only recently was begun to be massed to counter the ling bane hydra ZvP meta. Oracles have tons of damage output and can melt Hydralisk based armies if Zerg players aren’t careful. This is a frustrating style to play against, as the best units to counter oracles (mutalisks and corruptors) are countered by other stargate units (phoenix and voidray). A new way to combat these oracle styles, or a nerf to reduce the oracles ability to be massed would greatly benefit Zerg players.
- Fungal Growth
- Radius increased to 2.5 from 2.0
- No longer roots enemy units
- Slows units by 75%
- Infested Terran
- Gauss Rifle damage reduce to 6 from 8
- Gauss Rifle only hits ground
- Added weapon: acid spores
- 14 Damage
- Period 0.95
- Range: 6
- Prioritized over Gauss Rifle
- Only hits air
- Projectile Attack
- Standard Zerg unit upgrades (from evolution chambers) now affect infested Terrans.
- 3.6 Seconds to spawn
The infestor is one of Zergs few caster units in the game currently and has access to one of the most powerful spells in the game: fungal growth. Right now fungal growth can lock down large parts of armies while the infestor is burrowed underground while dealing damage and greatly increasing the effectiveness of certain Zerg damage sources (ultralisks, banelings, ravager’s corrosive bile, parasitic bomb, lurkers etc). Overall, fungal growth is getting a nerf and rightfully so. The spell is incredibly powerful since it can be cast while the infestor is burrowed meaning it can come as a surprise to affect large parts of enemy armies. Even though the radius is being increase on fungal growth, losing the full root of the ability is important. This ability is still incredibly powerful and will be used, but it isn’t as overpowered as it used to be as it greatly increases the micro potential from your opponent.
However overall the infestor is getting buffed and that is solely due to the infested terran change. Now that the infested terran spawns faster and has a greatly increases AA weapon, infested terrans and mass infestors are viable, especially against late-game skytoss armies. Since infested terrans will benefit from upgrades, their damage potential is going up a lot, with +3 range weapons the new infested terran will have almost 5 more DPS than the current infestor against air units and even without upgrades their DPS is increasing by 1.7. While this isn’t a huge difference, because they spawn 1.4 seconds faster they can start dealing damage much faster. Additionally with carapace upgrades infested terrans will take much less damage from carriers because each interceptor applies 2 attacks (meaning every armor is applied 16x per full carrier per attack cycle). With one of the earlier balance updates the infested terran was going to spawn in 1 second on creep, during this period mass infestor was incredibly powerful against skytoss and could destroy skytoss armies quickly and effectively. Recently blizzard modified it to 3.6 seconds everywhere, so it remains to be seen how much this will impact the infestor. Anyways, I highly recommend setting up rapid fire for the infested terran ability because I think having more infestors against skytoss is going to be a good thing going into the future.
- Mutate to lurker den removed from hydralisk den
- New structure: lurker den 100 minerals 150 gas 86 seconds
- New upgrade: digging claws
- on the lurker den
- requires hive
- 150 minerals | 150 gas | 56 seconds
- reduces burrow time. Increases lurker move speed from 4.13 to 4.55
The lurker is a rarely used unit in ZvP and ZvT. In ZvP it can be used to hit timing attacks and they can work, however there are often very short windows in which they work effectively and they can be expensive and lose the game if they do not work effectively. Lurkers are also very positional and map dependent, so the only way to use them effectively is on choke points on the map. There are a few things that this change will affect. First it will increase the timing window that lurkers can be useful in ZvP and secondly it may allow lurkers to retain some effectiveness later in the game once the upgrade has been researched. With that being said, they are most useful against units like chargelots, something that just isn’t used in late-game ZvP as a part of Protoss’ main army and lurkers are cost efficient in terms of static defense to defend chargelot run-bys. Unless we see a great reduction in skytoss (due to carrier and infestor changes primarily) and an increase in archon and immortal based armies, I doubt the lurker will increase too much in usefulness.
- Parasitic bomb no longer stacks with parasitic bomb
- damage increased from 60 to 120
- added one second delay before parasitic bomb begins damage.
Parasitic bomb was an important tool for zerg to deal with certain air units, primarily mass raven and mass voidray. Since these units stacked you could cast many parasitic bombs and deal lethal damage to many units. With these changes that won’t be possible, however with the damage increase to the ability, it may worthwhile to cast one parasitic bomb on a clumped up army as the fight begins as a way to deal aoe damage and assist other units in finishing off an army. Overall, the viper was mostly used for abduct and blinding cloud and neither of those abilities are changing. The viper will still be a strong unit, but other options will have to be considered against strategies like mass voidray.
- New ability: oversite
- The overseer loses mobility but gains 25% more vision
Overall this is mostly a quality of life change. It’s main purpose in my eyes will be against dark Templar strategies to put an overseer in oversite mode on each of your bases so that the Templar can’t snipe your detection (in the case of spore crawlers).
- Movement speed increased from 0.82 to 0.902.
This is another quality of life change, with maps becoming bigger due to having to expand faster because of lotv economy, overlords take longer to reach enemy bases at the start of the game. This gives Zergs scouting information 10% faster and will also slightly help in keeping overlords alive against early marines, stalkers or queens.
- Move speed off creep decreased from 4.13 to 3.15
This will be a noticeable nerf for the swarm host. One of its greatest advantages was being hard to kill (lots of health + fast movement speed) allowing it to gain value as the game went on by not dying. Overall, the swarm host is mostly commonly used against mech strategies and since sieged siege tanks can’t move it will still be difficult for Terran players to kill large numbers of swarm hosts. With that being said, swarm hosts were incredibly powerful in the match-up and this change will balance them out. There is a chance we see more nydus play with swarm hosts because of this change but I think that is unlikely.
Overall I think these changes, especially the infestor change, will help Zerg’s to combat the two styles of play that I think many Zerg players want changed the most skytoss and mass oracle. While there are certainly some nerfs coming Zerg’s way, I don’t think they will cause imbalance or strong weaknesses. In contrast, I am excited about the positive changes for Zerg. I am hoping that more lurker play will begin to exist with powerful timings because I enjoy using the unit, however I suspect this won’t be the case, at least not at the beginning. I think the infestor’s utility is going to increase greatly, as a previously never used ability is now powerful in certain scenario’s.
I will be going over my thoughts on the Terran and Protoss changes from a Zerg perspective in the next article.