Starcraft 2 has seen its latest patch, version 1.3.0 and it’s a doozy. With many changes to the UI, replay system, and the always-beloved balance tweaks, there are dozens of opportunities to complain!
Of course, few of the 1.3 changes are a surprise, since most of them were incorporated into the Starcraft 2 Public Test Realm (PTR) a few weeks ago. Many previous patch changes have come straight from the PTR, including the tradeoff of Void Ray speed for increased damage to massive units. Quite frankly, Blizzard should rename the PTR, as it seems the server isn’t really used for testing changes, just implementing them earlier and testing the waters of forum rage before updates are actualized.
Let’s take a look at the changes line-by-line with the same kind of scrutiny as is typically applied to the United States federal budget.*
Starcraft 2 Patch 1.3 Balance Changes
General change: Players can no longer hide units by setting them in a close proximity patrol (ex: Viking flower)
Well, this took long enough. For anyone who isn’t aware, if flying units were told to patrol a tiny area, they would basically clump up and overlap one another, creating a beautiful but terrifying ball of death. While such death flowers served little tactical purpose, they made it impossible to enemies to determine how many units were inside. Are you engaging five Vikings, or thirty? Who knows! Guessing was half the fun as your Colossi were blown to smithereens!
High Templar: Khaydarin Amulet upgrade (+25 starting energy) has been removed.
Speaking of Colossi, Blizzard has given players even less of a reason to take Toss tech routes other than those four-legged deathmobiles. High Templar no longer have the ability to spawn with 75 energy, meaning fresh-out-of-the-oven casters can’t use Psionic Storm right away. While the ability to call in psychic death with five seconds’ notice was probably overpowered, the solution isn’t completely removing an upgrade, especially since Protoss already lost Flux Vanes. Why not just change the upgrade to grant increased energy regeneration, or a higher maximum energy for High Templar?
Mothership: Units leaving the Mothership’s Vortex are now un-targetable and immune to damage for 1.5 seconds.
Oh, now I understand why Blizzard didn’t just tweak Khaydarin Amulet upgrade… they just hate the Protoss. Blizzard decided players weren’t using Fleet Beacon technology enough, so they decided to make it even worse. You see, in about 0.05% of games, a Protoss player who lived long enough to create a Mothership and Archons, and who could successfully cast Vortex on enemies, could use the Archons’ splash damage to destroy a great deal of units while they emerged from the alternate dimension. Apparently this was way too cool, and Blizzard removed it, just like they removed the other fun aspects of the Protoss Mothership.
Zealot: Charging Zealots will now hit fleeing targets at least once.
What’s this… a buff? Previously, units like stimmed Marines and Marauders could effectively kite Zealots who had the charge upgrade. If they walked away fast enough, Terran units could cause the Zealot charge to occur, but when the Zealot charge ended, it would be a few inches short of the target, causing the Zealot to do absolutely nothing except walk straight into death like an idiot. This has now been remedied, as charging Zealots will always get off at least one punch before being riddled with
bullshit Terran bullets.
Battlecruiser: Movement speed increased from 1.406 to 1.875.
Let’s face it, the only unit you see less often than a Mothership is
the Carrier the Battlecruiser, and with good reason. After the Battlecruiser got its damage nerfed a few patches ago, it’s simply too expensive, slow, and weak to use. Hopefully a 33% increase in speed will give Terran players a reason to consider this gentle giant.
Ghost: EMP now drains up to 100 energy instead of all available energy. The effect on Protoss shields remains unchanged.
Ghosts are the effective counter to spellcasters, cloaked units, and every Protoss unit, so it’s not shocking Blizzard is toning down EMP a smidgen. While most casting units don’t typically sit around with a full 200 energy, it’s nice to know players who stockpile spells won’t be as severely punished by Ghosts anymore, especially now that sitting on energy will be the defacto use of High Templar.
Bunker: Build time increased from 35 to 40 seconds.
Tech Lab: Stimpack upgrade research time increased from 140 to 170 seconds.
Two changes to decrease the power of early-game Terran pushes, part of a long line of nerfs to early human aggression (see: the complete rape of Reapers) will continue to help Protoss and Zerg players establish themselves a little more easily right from the get-go. The stim research time increase seems a tad long, but at least Blizzard didn’t just delete an overpowered upgrade, as they’re wanton to due with certain other races.
Infestor: Fungal Growth stun duration decreased from 8 to 4 seconds; Fungal Growth damage increased by +30% vs. armored units.
Let’s make one thing clear: Fungal Growth damage got a huge buff. First, it now works twice as fast, applying deadly toxins in 4 seconds instead of 8. Second, it now has a bonus against armored units, once again raising the question of “why do units with armor take more damage from everything than units without armor?” This change will greatly increase the potency of Infestors against Marauders, upping their pain and doing so in a shorter window, minimizing the time Medivacs will have to heal them. While the changes will affect other units as well, like Stalkers, they benefit from being able to Blink away sooner, so it seems like an even trade.
There are far too many other changes to tackle on a case-by-case basis, so here’s an overview of the important points.
Leagues and Ladders: The top 200 players in each region now have access to an ultra elite Grandmaster League. Ladder stats have been changed to no longer show losses (what the fuck?) in an attempt to trick players into repeatedly having their asses handed to them, while only reminding them of their moments of glory. League badges are now extra-shiny if you’re in the top 50, 20, or 8 players of your division.
Custom Games: Custom games are now much easier to browse and sort, with filters for featured maps, popular maps, up and coming maps, etc. You can now bookmark favorite custom maps, as well as rate custom maps to warn other players that Desert Strike is not actually fun.
Observers and Replays: The entire UI for observers and replays has been updated to give you more information, like simultaneous data on all players’ incomes and resource counts. Basically, it’s all a lot better, which should make for more enjoyable observing, more accurate pro-casting, and more thorough analysis of your own retrospective blunders.
Bug Fixes, Map Editor: There are a slew of incredibly boring bug fixes and map editing improvements. I don’t understand half of them. For a full overview of all patch changes, see the Starcraft 2 1.3 patch notes here.
*Just kidding, I’m actually going to try.