Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sc2 WinRate Analysis; Future patch hints!

Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft 2, has posted a lengthy and interesting article detailing StarCraft 2′s race usage and win percentages as well as gameplay balancing plans for the next patch.

For the Zerg race, the present looks grim (but the future seems bright!) – Blizzard’s numbers show that less than a quarter of all players play as Zerg.

Protoss are played 38.5% of the time.

Terran are played 38.0% of the time.

Zerg are played 23.5% of the time.

These cross-league statistics leave no doubt as to which race drew the shortest popularity stick. Indeed, the Zerg have become increasingly harder to play as the meta-game settled in with both Terran and Protoss openings being “simpler” than the Zerg’s fragile early game.

In reality, however, players that willingly pick Zerg are not the underdogs comapred to their Terran and Protoss opponents. The Diamond numbers are actually quite reassuring, displaying a fairly balanced 3-way relationship, while Platinum is currently favoring Zerg in terms of win percentage.

Win % in Diamond (accounting for player skill)

49.6% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.

52.8% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.

49.6% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.

Win % in Platinum (accounting for player skill)

56.3% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.

47.3% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.

44.5% win for Terran when fighting Zerg.

Win % in Gold (accounting for player skill)

61.0% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.

61.1% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.

49.5% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.

Win % in Silver (accounting for player skill)

63.6% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.

50.7% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.

51.6% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.

Win % in Bronze (accounting for player skill)

59.0% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.

55.1% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.

45.4% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.

Interestingly, while the Zerg are not as popular – likely due to being slightly less comfortable to play with, as Chris Sigaty himself had said recently - it is the Protoss vs Terran match-up that appears to be in need of balancing, especially across the lower leagues. We’ve highlighted those numbers in green. Curiously, Diamond-level Terrans enjoy a slight advantage over the Protoss – probably because of much better use of EMP, abundant M&M drops, and efficient Reaper micro at these higher levels.

Dustin also took the time to preview some of the balance changes planned to be included in the next patch:

• We’re increasing roach range. This will allow roaches to be more effective in large groups, giving the zerg more options in the mid to end game.

The Roach has received many nerfs throughout its life in StarCraft 2, and this change will definitely help settle the score in its favor. By giving extra range to the Roach, large groups of these units become much more viable. Not only can more of them shoot over their brethren on the field, but they’ll also offer nice support when Ultralisks join the battle and clog-up the front lines with their massive size. Busting up walled ramp-chokes will surely become an easier task as well with more Roaches firing.

• Fungal Growth will now prevent Blink, which will give zerg a way to stop endlessly Blinking stalkers which can be very challenging to deal with in large numbers.

• The Barracks are going to require a Supply Depot, which will impact a lot of early terran reaper pushes.

• The reaper speed upgrade will require the Factory, which is meant to weaken a lot of the early terran reaper attacks that dominate so many matches, especially in team games.

Despite being completely ignored by players in the mid and late game, the Reaper is slated to be hit with more early-game nerfs. While on paper, Reapers have the potential to be great economy harassers and tech-deniers, their extreme fragility makes even the puniest defensive measure a prohibitive obstacle – and these can be found anywhere beyond the first few minutes of a game. It’s unclear what Blizzard has in store for the Reaper, but for now, it will definitely see a lot less play.

• We’re making a number of increases to the health of zerg buildings, which will make the very vulnerable zerg technology structures more resistant to raids. We don’t expect these hit point changes to have a super significant impact on the game, but the current numbers felt way too low.

All in all, this patch will definitely make the Zerg’s life easier. However, since it doesn’t address any of the complications in Zerg play that we mentioned in our post on the subject, it’s not clear that it will actually increase the amount of Zerg players. That will remain to be seen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Patch 1.1 - Bug fix bug fix BUG FIX!

StarCraft 2′s 1.1.1 patch focuses exclusively on bug fixes:
Bug Fixes
Fixed an issue where Ultralisk cleave range was being unintentionally extended by larger targets.
Fixed an issue where the Phoenix’s Graviton Beam was automatically canceled if you used it just after the Phoenix reached 50 energy.
Fixed an issue where queuing Return Cargo on a worker would cause it to ignore the built-in delay after it finished gathering.
Fixed an issue where players watching older replays or saved games would experience stuttering.
Fixed an issue where some Mac users were unable to join games properly.
We now return you to your previously scheduled StarCraft 2 program.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

StarCraft 2′s First Major Patch: Highlights and Analysis

StarCraft 2 has just received its first major patch. While several mini-fixes had been released over the course of the last two months, Blizzard has saved all the balance changes for this one. Staying surprisingly true to the Situation Report, the patch contained virtually no deviations from the plans revealed back in August – a clear indication of the amount of testing that went into the patch.

You can find the full original patch documentation (which includes many minor tweaks) here. In this post, we’ll go over the more meaningful parts of this update.

General Changes

• A new game clock has been added. Players can now instantly see how long they’ve been in their current mission or match. This feature can be turned on or off in the Gameplay Options menu.

This small addition has a great potential. Many players learning and perfecting certain builds already use timers to know exactly when they should push out or what to expect from the enemy at any moment given intelligence gathered before. Integrating a timer into the game allows everyone to incorporate this extra piece of information into their game instead of relying on intuition.

The following balance changes are identical to those mentioned in the situation report released last month. Our analysis of the changes can be found here.

Protoss Balance Changes

• Zealot

• Build time increased from 33 to 38.

• Warp Gate cooldown increased from 23 to 28.

As Blizzard mention in their report:

Zealot rushes are currently too powerful at various skill levels, particularly those that rely on rapidly assaulting an enemy base from nearby “proxy” gateways. We feel the window players have to scout for and fend off this rush is too small. We also want to address the problem of protoss being able to dump minerals a bit too quickly with the combination of warpgates and Chrono Boost.

Terran Balance Changes

• Battlecruiser Ground damage decreased from 10 to 8. • Bunker Build time increased from 30 to 35.

• Reaper Build time increased from 40 to 45.

….we have decided to increase the build time of reapers as well from 40 to 45 seconds. Fast reaper + bunker, or fast marine + bunker rushes are problematic against zerg.

Siege Tank 

• Siege mode damage changed from 50 to 35 (+15 armored).

• Upgrade damage changed from +5 to +3 (+2 armored).

Zerg Balance Changes


• Ram ability removed. Ultralisk will now use normal attack against buildings. 

• Damage decreased from 15 (+25 armored) to 15 (+20 armored).

The adjustment to Ultralisk’s attack is a bigger boost than it may seem at first glance. Check out the following video to fully appreciate the implications of applying an AoE effect to a building attack. This newly introduced “mechanic” has already been acknowledged as a bug, however, and will be fixed soon.

Bug Fixes


• Chat windows no longer vanish when exiting a multiplayer map or campaign mission. • Fixed an issue where players would still receive toasts when their status was set to busy.

Custom Games

• Default race in a game lobby is now properly set to Random. • Lobby hosts will now receive a toast when an invited player declines an invitation.


• If a unit loads into a transport, missiles targeting it will no longer target similar units in the area.
• Fixed an issue where builders waiting for an area to clear could block units trying to leave the area.


• Queue tooltips now display information about what is in progress.
• Marines trained at multiple Barracks will now prefer a Barracks with a Reactor over one with a Tech Lab or no attachment.
• SCVs will now load into the closest Command Center if multiple are within range.

Let me know what you think of these changes? How will it affect your build order? I look forward to hearing your comments!