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Highlights from the Reddit Balance Q&A

by - 5 months ago

Several members of the design team took to Reddit today to answer questions from the community. As you can imagine the topics were wide-ranging and the thread is already over 600 posts at the time of this writing. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time or the patience to wade thru a 600 post Reddit thread, we did it for you.

Here are some of the more interesting takeaways from this highly informative Q&A:

Probius

  • It was a conscious design to not have Photon Cannon prioritize Heroes. They did not want Probius to be a lane bully able to zone out enemy Heroes with aggressive Photon Cannon placement.
  • Probius is meant to be more of a defensive Hero. Having the Cannon auto-target minions first forces players to decide between forward placement to help clear minion waves or rear placement to defend against diving Heroes.
  • Builder Heroes have traditionally been difficult to balance and Probius was no exception.
  • They didn’t want to give Probius the ability to summon a million Photon Cannons because it would be too similar to what Gazlowe does and it would be hard to differentiate future Builder Heroes in the future if they put too much power into their turrets.
  • They were also concerned about the problems that summoning too many building would create such as pathing issues and an overwhelming amount of health bars.
  • They also felt like focusing too much on the builder aspect makes the Hero less interesting once you have played enough games to master the build order. They feel like having him rely more on zoning areas around his Pylons is more strategic than going all in on Cannons.
  • Probius is meant to be a situation pick, not a Hero that is great to pick all the time. They attribute much of his low win rate to the fact that he is being played in almost all situations now because he is new. They expect his win rate to improve as people learn the correct maps and correct comps for him.

Armor Changes

  • For starters, they want to assure everyone that the recent changes are not a shift in design direction, but an attempt to begin future-proofing the flexibility and diversity of the Hero pool.
  • Adding base Armor to a few Warriors is the first step to both hone and broadcast the strength of a few Heroes.
  • The design intent is not to make the game into Rock-Paper-Scissors and games should not begin and end at the draft screen.
  • The philosophy behind strengthening certain aspects of Heroes is that it will allow more niche picks as opposed to two or three Warriors always being deemed best regardless of the situation.
  • They agree that permanent hard-counters are not healthy for the game and prefer to lock the more egregious ones behind mechanically driven methods more so than passive ones.
  • Their preliminary data does not show that games are auto-losses in situations where a team picks to mages early and the enemy team picks Anub’arak or when a team first picks a Warrior like Tyrael only to have the enemy team go heavy auto-attack Heroes. They are fine with smart drafting resulting in an advantage, but they do not believe, not does their preliminary data show, that games are being lost in drafts as a result of these changes.

Arthas

Balance Designer Adam Jackson shared some insight into the data used to inform the recent Arthas changes:

  • Pre-rework, Army of the Dead was both the losing Heroic, as well as the lesser picked one. It was picked 38% of the time compared to 62% for Summon Sindragosa, and it was winning 49% of the time compared to 52% for Sindy. They’re not incredibly far off here, so we could leave well enough alone.
  • In the rework we removed damage off of Arthas in favor of survivability. This could potentially mean that Army of the Dead is even less needed on Arthas, as now he can tank damage even better than before, making Summon Sindragosa possibly even stronger as it gives him tower shutoff capability as well as the ability to engage on the enemy team, which is something he’s normally not very good at.
  • We also had feedback that Army of the Dead can just feel bad to use due to how easily the Ghouls die to incidental AoE damage. Arthas also often uses his Army purely to consume his Ghouls for Health. We wanted to buff up the Health and damage a little so that there’s a little more of “I want to keep my Ghouls alive so they can kill my enemies” instead of “I don’t care about these dumb things… gimme dat HEALTH!”
  • The buffs to Army of the Dead were fairly minor. We weren’t looking to drastically upset the balance of these heroics, but more to “catch up” Army of the Dead compared to what we saw the future appeal of Summon Sindragosa to be post rework.

Hero Rework Philosophy

Choosing which Heroes get reworked is not an exact science. Some things they look for include:

  • How healthy is their talent diversity? Zagara pre-rework had really bad talent diversity.
  • Is there anything about their kit/talents that feels bad as the user plays with? For example, it felt bad as the Butcher to lose all of his Meat stacks every time he died.
  • Is there anything that feels to oppressive when playing against them? Like Kael’thas with the original Ignite Talent.
  • Is the hero too similar to others and we need to create a niche for them? When to pick Tychus vs. Valla before his rework.

They also consider reworks if a Hero has an outdated talent tree or kit. Popularity is not something they typically take into consideration when reworking a Hero. They are much more concerned with fixing and improving the design of the game than artificially inflating a particular Heroes win rate.

Buff and Nerf Philosophy

Lead Balance Designer Matt Cooper shared some details on what they look at when considering whether to make changes to a Hero:

  • Win Rates: We look at win rate across the board, in ladder play, different MMR brackets, pro play, etc. Often times we will find conflicting data which makes our decision more challenging: Take Tassadar as an example – this is a character who for a long time could have used a buff in ladder, but a nerf in esports.
  • Pick Rates: For pick rate we’re looking at overall play rate, draft rate, ban rate, when a character is picked in a draft (early vs. late), esports play rate, map specific pick rates, etc.
  • Talent Health: Talent diversity, how many talent builds are viable, is there a single talent propping this character up, etc.
  • Incoming Reworks & Design Changes: As an example here, if Rehgar is weak, but we know Malfurion is getting a major rework, we might wait to see how the Malfurion stuff pans out before working on Rehgar.
  • Community Perception: Feedback from you guys!

Miscellaneous

  • Uther is being currently being reworked and the update should be coming sooner rather than later. These changes are already a part of their internal playtesting so it shouldn’t be much longer until they are rolled out.
  • They are working on an update for Alarak that will improve his talent diversity that will be coming soon tm, but not in the next month.
  • Leoric should be receiving changes in the next few months. They are looking at some tuning adjustments and will experiment will some of the suggestions they have seen from the community. He will not be receiving a major overhaul as they like his role in the game, but they do acknowledge that his talent tree could use some love.
  • There may be some tiny updates coming for Dehaka.
  • Changes to Tyrande are currently being play tested internally.
  • There are more Warriors lined up ready to enter the Nexus.
  • They felt the removal of Imposing Will was the right choice to fit Tyrael‘s future role in the Nexus. They are not currently looking at a full rework for him, but they are constantly on the lookout for ways to make talent choices more impactful and Tyrael’s Level 13 Talents are no exception.
  • They would like to rework the Warrior/Assassin/Specialist/Support naming at some point, but they do not have any time of estimate for when this change might happen.
  • They are okay with Heroes like Medivh and The Lost Vikings not showing up often in Hero League. They are meant to be hard to play and somewhat situational. That said, they do have some quality of life changes in mind for both Heroes that may see the light of day somewhere down the line. Potential Lost Viking changes include a talent build that encourages them to stick together and focus on a single lane as opposed to the common split soak playstyle.
  • Tychus‘ Level 13 talent tier was designed to be the tier that offered survivability. That’s The Stuff! was never intended to be a build-around talent that allowed Tychus to brawl toe to toe with other characters by out-healing their damage. If they see Tychus fall off they would prefer to address him overall as opposed to buffing that talent again.
  • Level 1 and Level 7 talents for Sylvanas are intended to improve her PVE capabilities. They are happy with the pick and win rate of her Level 1 Talents, but they may look into buffing Possession and Unstable Poison at Level 7.
  • There are no sweeping plans to gut healing or anything along those lines. They are happy that healing feels incredibly powerful in Heroes of the Storm, but they are always looking for ways to enhance healers/supports outside of pure healing.
  • Damage taken by Varian will be added to the TAB screen at some point.


Lee Vaughn

Lee has been playing Blizzard games since the 90's and Heroes of the Storm since the Tech Alpha. If he isn't playing a Blizzard game he is probably tweeting about one.