The Swarm mourns its imbalances
It has been almost a month since its release and plenty of fans are still being consumed, if not already consumed, by the raging force that is the Swarm. While most players plow through the single player components of the game without much of a fuss, a good number are still dissatisfied with the current state of the multiplayer game. Despite being the featured and celebrated race for this second installment, players of the Zerg race, it seems, have been the most aggrieved of the lot. Just how justified are these complaints against the game's overall balance?
In a post IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) interview, popular Polish Zerg Nerchio exponent conceded, somewhat reluctantly though, that Protoss versus Zerg games are perhaps the most embarrassingly imbalanced racial match ups of the game in its current state. As Toss players derive great strength in keeping together their massive “ball of death”, the extra mobility afforded to them in Heart of the Swarm with the Mothership core, basically hard counters the multi-pronged attack strategy—a popular technique used to wither down the Protoss economy. Throw in the ability to slow units down within an area-of-effect radius and the hamstrung Zerg swarm has now been gift wrapped for rapid killing.
However, alterations to the Protoss play style alone should not be cause for vehement cries of imbalance because Zerg composites in principle, should still be able to out maneuver and outplay the Protoss army given that the swarm was the most adaptive race. However, this is where the fine line of equilibrium is strained to breaking point. Where Protoss previously lacked competency to deal with massive Muta flocks, they now deal with it comfortably. Muscled up with the Tempest, a unit that makes the Broodlord look awkward, the added fire power increases the survivability of the Protoss ball in late game, knocking over Broodlords when in sight and dismembering corrupters as and when they advance. Throw in some carriers (a unit that would have been removed but was adjudged to be too cool), 3-3 void rays and the Mothership in the middle and you have a recipe for imbalance.
While many other imbalances can be debated, the Sky-Toss armada is one issue that has been constantly re-opened and dissected on the StarCraft 2 forums. To add insult to injury, the new units for the Zerg haven’t been much of a help. As pointed out by Nerchio in the same interview, Vipers do close to naught damage when well placed psy storms roll out. Swarm hosts on the other hand, attack at the same level Broodlings (summoned by the Broodlords) attack but at a slower respawn rate and greater immobility given that it’s a ground siege unit.
While the dissatisfaction surrounding PvZ balance grows and swells, the other problematic racial matchup should not be forgotten. Although the disparity between the two races this time round (Terran and Zerg) is not as large or damning as PvZ clashes, a “lack of improvement” to the Zerg composition compounded by the new additions to the Terran setup has made for many unhappy returns to this battle for harden Zerg users.
In a recent post pulled off the StarCraft 2 general discussions, one user noted that Battle Hellions, at a fraction of the cost of the Collosus (the bane of the Zerg army), deals the same damage as its towering-hill traversing counterpart. Being able to be healed and transported by a Medivech, they are commonly seen tearing into mineral lines and or tanking damage in the frontlines. Coming out of a factory at 100/0, well executed Battle Hellion harassments are giving the previous masters of harassment (the Zerg) a run for their money. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Coming in to throw an even larger wrench into the Zerg party is the Widow Mine, a burrowed unit that delivers a powerful AOE knockout punch to any units that crosses its 5 range radius. Requiring detection to uncover, this piece is the ultimate harassment deterrent. Squashing Zergling runabouts or Mutalisks fly-arounds, they can neutralize multi-prong attacks and provide more than sufficient cover for siege contains. Evident in our recent cover of the HotS BetaCup 6 finals in February, Widow Mines can singlehandedly turn the tide for the Terran player by clearing up Bane-Speedling armies even before then can set eyes on the Terran troops.
That said, the Zerg horde is still up in arms over a multitude of perceived imbalances—some of which are legit while others still lack validity. Despite the huge disadvantages, Zerg players are sticking by their beloved race, as noted by sc2ranks.com. With most gamers gold league and upward playing Zerg more than any other races, perhaps not all feel the same about the “poor” hand Blizzard has dealt the Zerg following.
Esteemed Zerg player Stephano once mentioned in another post IEM interview that perhaps the best solution to finding balance is to “fix” the other races and leave the swarm as it is. He later remarked that he found great OP potential in the Swarm Host—a unit which as of now, has not yet found favour with the playing cohort.
What do you think? Should Blizzard fix Zerg or “nerf” the other races? Or do you think this whole balance issue is blown out of proportion? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!
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