Home Editorial Balance Blizzard agrees: Chrono Boost is still boring

In May of this year, I wrote an article about why, from a personal and strategic point of view, I believe Chronoboost is a boring ability.

Is it powerful? Definitely. Necessary? Certainly. But exciting? Not a chance. Some of my complaints were as follows…

  • It limits player choice.*
  • It is just so vanilla and default.
  • Its visual effect is lackluster.

All around, Chronoboost is just one giant yawnfest.

While responses in that article’s comments were respectful, even among dissenting parties, I can’t say the reaction to my piece on various Starcraft 2 forums and communities wasn’t as benign. My suggestions that the Nexus receive one or two new abilities that affected units or buildings were scoffed at. After a few hours, the general consensus was that I was an idiot, and that Blizzard would never add more abilities to the Protoss Nexus.

Then Heart of the Swarm previews began, and lo and behold, the Nexus had two new abilities. Mass Recall was transposed from the now-defunct Mothership to the Nexus, allowing the Protoss to move its armies around the map quickly when necessary. Arc Shield transforms any Protoss structure into a weaker Photon Cannon for 20 seconds, allowing for spot defense or a dastardly forward push.

Well, I hate to say “I told you so,” but I fucking told you so, haters. And I wouldn’t relish these inclusions as much if it weren’t for the fact that nobody on the internet who seemed so opposed to my suggestions originally had a negative thing to say about these additions. There was silence from everyone who mocked me (and other people who agreed with me) for even degning to suggest the Nexus receive a way to boost early game defense. Everyone who said “no player would willingly use an ability other than Chronoboost” suddenly vanished.

It’s as if an enormous wave of vindication swept over the masses and cleansed their minds of their previous transgressions. A single tear swelled in my eye.

Of course, we don’t know if these two Nexus abilities will actually make it untouched into the final build of Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. But by their very inclusion in this early build, Blizzard has demonstrated a shared belief that Protoss macro balance should be more multifacted than just asking “which thing do I want to speed up?” I can’t pretend to know if Arc Shield and Mass Recall are balanced or viable, but I certainly welcome anything that adds variety to the Aiur armory.

 * Compared to the more varied and  interesting choices posed when using Orbital Commands and Queens.

4 replies to this post
  1. I am not sure about whether Arc Shield will really pay for itself.
    I mean, sure, you can defend your cannon rush WITH THE PYLON so that Zerg has absolutely no chance of beating it.
    But it appears like you never really need a pseudo-cannon that only lasts 20 seconds and eats at least as much energy as Chrono does. Especially when it does not make that building a detector, which is almost certain that it will not. (You destroyed my cannon with your DT, but guess what MF, now my NEXUS is a detector.)
    So it’s going to be a terrible way between making it worth using and making it overpowered.
    Or, you know, they are just going to cut it, like WHAT MADE THE MOTHERSHIP WORTH ITSELF, and give the Nexus the old fashioned Push-me-button and an emergency teleport for when you need a forcefield radius full of units at your base right now. Which should not ever happen. If you get surprised by more than a warpin at your base can handle, you are doing it wrong.

    Regular photon cannons do 20 damage with a 1.75 cooldown.
    So let’s say that ability which was totally not a concept for zerg in the beta makes buildings into 15 damage, 1.75 cooldown attackers. That means they could attack 11 times with some breathing room. That would consequently be 165 damage, which is about enough to kill FOUR Zerglings and hit another one once.
    That as an exchange for not being able to chrono a gate and just produce another zealot for that exact job. The same calculation for real cannons makes 6.5 Zerglings, but THEY DON’T EXPIRE.

    Thus, I would say that a good approach would be making the cannon strength (and ability cost?) dependant on the building itself. While a pylon would only be a puny 10 damage cannon, a Nexus might dish out 40 damage with a faster shot rate. That would about make it a valuable choice for when you really need it.

    Also, can we please have a new visual effect for chrono boost that is not just the Select Area-Rune for Protoss layered and spinning?
    What would you say if you had to watch that little circle circle over your hatcheries instead of eggs when you inject Larva?

    • I really like the idea of having the Arc Shield scale to the power of the building. I think it makes the ability more useful while ALSO lowering the value it could have for cheese.

      Best ability ever? No. But some of these abilities may be a better expenditure of energy when production is maxed out or you get caught with your pants down. Sure, in an ideal world that would never happen, but there are always minor oversights!

      As for Mass Recall, it could have applications outside of emergency defense, but that will depend on the final numbers and any limitations on the ability.

      • If it is built like Mothership Recall right now, you would need a Nexus at the location you want to go.
        Consequently, it would have no uses apart from defense. Maybe getting some forces behind the enemy if they are directly between a Nexus and what they are attacking. But that would also be defense.

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