Every race in Stacraft 2 had something added to it to give players something to do in the early stages of the game, plus an engine for macro economy later in the battle’s progression as well. Terrans got the option to build an Orbital Command structure that rains awesome stuff from the sky, while Zerg got a Queen unit that poops out royal jelly and confuses your sexual feelings.* The Protoss, however, got stuck with Chrono Boost, an ability tied to their Nexus headquarters that drastically accelerates almost anything with a progress bar under it. Thanks, Blizzard.
Don’t get me wrong, Chrono Boost is a great ability. It helps worker production, warps in units faster, makes upgrades breeze by, and can even help a Mothership complete in slightly under infinity seconds. Overall, it’s easily the most versatile “macro” ability in Starcraft 2.
The only problem? It’s boring.
Again (and this is an incredibly important distinction), Chrono Boost is not at all bad. It’s quite good, and does a great job helping us Brotoss do everything but build faster. It’s the digital equivalent to cocaine: it speeds everything up with no downsides whatsoever.
But compared to the Terran and Zerg macro skills, Chrono Boost is simply bland. The most obvious reason is that, unlike an Orbital Command Center or a Queen, Protoss players always being the game with a Chrono Boost-capable Nexus. Toss players don’t have to decide when to build, add-on, or research Chrono Boost, and while they do have to carefully manage its timings and the energy required to use it, this applies to Terran and Zerg abilities as well. And while every Terran or Zerg player will always choose to get Orbital Commands and Queens, they have the option not to, which offers interesting options later in the game, such as building a Planetary Fortress to defend more contested expansions. The Protoss equivalent is basically “Guess it’s time to build another Nexus.”
While Chrono Boost is somewhat versatile (since it can work on units or upgrade research), it doesn’t feel versatile in direct contrast to the other races’ options. An Orbital Command is primarily used for MULEs, and they’re pretty cool. They fall from the sky, turbocharge your economy, and provide repairs on the spot if necessary. But those tricky Terrans have other tricks up their sleeves – from the oh so useful Scanner Sweep for instant scouting/detection and the less widely used (but still interesting) supply drop, which has its own economic and strategic benefits.
On the Zerg side, Queens are (in)famous for being multitaskers, providing a key resource (larvae), increasing unit mobility with Creep Tumors, and infusing wounded… organisms… with additional health. Thus, just like Terrans, Zerg players must balance Queens’ energy use, ensuring they don’t get caught with their chitinous plating down when enemy action moves them off creep or in a situation where a last second heal would make or break a battle.
Then there’s Chrono Boost, which has one use and only one use.** Got some energy stored on your Nexus? I’ll bet you dollars to dropships it’s going to be used on Chrono Boost, because you don’t have a fucking choice. While it would have been really easy for Blizzard to give the Nexus an additional skill or give Chrono Boost additional (perhaps unlockable) uses, they decided not to because they hate giving Protoss players upgrade options.† Why not add a second Nexus ability that can grant a single unit a temporary movement speed boost, or temporary hardened shields? How about an Upgrade that allows a Nexus to cloak itself, or any Probes in its vicinity? While these abilities would require a lot of balancing considerations, none of them would be ridiculous if paired with a reasonable energy cost. This is particularly true when one considers that Terran must weigh the information and power of a Scanner Sweep with the implicit economic losses incurred by using it.
Lastly, Chrono Boost is boring because just fucking look at it. You hit Chrono Boost and use it on a building, and the building glows and ripples a little for 20 seconds. No giant-ass packages slamming into the ground from orbit. No larvae crawling around or disgusting tumors being birthed directly into the ground. It just makes your buildings shiny.
Much ado about nothing
More than likely, Blizzard won’t be changing Chrono Boost or giving the Protoss any new ability options until Heart of the Swarm. Even then, odds are they’ll just add Corsairs back into the game and call it a day. But if anyone over there happens to be reading this, perhaps they could pity Protoss players and drop something their way, even if it’s just being able to Chrono Boost Interceptor build time so Carriers are 5% less useless. Please?
* It’s half bug, half human, all nightmare fuel.
** It also increases passive building shield regeneration by about 50%, which is approximately 0% useful.
† See: Phase Cannons, Flux Vanes, and the much beloved Kaleidoscope Amulet. More precisely: Terran have ~37 upgrades; Protoss have ~23.