A new Legacy of the Void patch has just dropped on the beta (just as I was writing the new A Casual Approach which happened to be about Liberators…) which includes some changes that some may rejoice in – and others may lament. I’d like to take a look at one in particular which has brought out the Twitter-rage in me:
- Carrier health decreased from 300 to 250.
(Let’s couple this with last week’s one too)
- Carrier build time increased from 90 to 120 seconds.
As a random player, when I get Protoss I love to go down the Stargate path in all match-ups for Protoss. Hell, I was even busting out the big golden armada in WoL when I realised (after a horrible experiment) that they were actually quite unstoppable in PvP. Then there were the dark days when the Tempest came along, and despite some great inspiration from young Canadian Protoss Myles “Bones” Donald, I had a tough time using them. LotV beta released and the Tempest “kill all big things in the air” bonus was removed and Carriers became great fun again.
With that said, some other intriguing things have been shuffled into Carriers in the LotV beta, some good – the reduction in build time was sweet – and some bad – the new skill ‘Release Interceptors’ (RI).
RI was a cool idea, but something to me that has never fit in with the way late game Protoss has been played, nor in particular the way Carriers should have ever been utilised. Carriers are not just the 1a unit that many people will make them out to be; especially once you hit higher skill levels. They are like a young toddler in a way – they can go out in the backyard to play by themselves and they can have fun – but you should still keep an eye on them and guide them. At higher levels they almost become something needing constant attention, with the threat of Parasitic Bomb*, Abducts, Yamato Cannon coupled with EMP, and possibly an opponent’s Carriers or Tempest themselves.
RI seemed to hope to salvage some of the lower-league players from 1a’ing their units and losing them to these things by helping make a strategic move that would allow you to send the Interceptors out to an area with a timed life or until they die. Leaving you free to back the Carriers out of danger at the cost of needing to rebuild the interceptors. I’m not a fan of this because it creates yet another damn clickable-skill on a unit, and worse than that – one that really doesn’t take any skill at all. RI doesn’t raise the skill ceiling of utilising a Carrier, in fact it possibly lowers it, because you can fire-and-forget and go back to macro or whatever it is you may be doing.
Why am I ranting about RI? Because it has effectively caused this double-nerf to the Carrier. Last update we saw the build-time reduction reverted – which I’ll admit was probably necessary – but now with a health adjustment this makes RI almost pointless. What is the point of having a skill to help “keep Carriers alive” if you’re just going to drop their health anyway?
Another point I’ve seen floating about on forums is that “Late game Protoss air is too powerful” which is quite strange to me. Protoss air in the late game (Carriers, Void Rays, Mothership and later on Tempest) has always been very strong. It’s just how the game and the lore work – it’s a natural thing in a way which has been around since Brood War – let alone Wings of Liberty. Protoss are the race with expensive gear – but powerful gear. Therefore, if you take the time and protect yourself and get to the late game safely, the army you’ve spent a lot of time and money investing in should be quite strong. Not unstoppable – but strong – this is how each of the races gets balanced out. Zerg is cheap, but a constant tidal wave of force, Protoss is a slow, expensive behemoth that will smash you apart if you haven’t counteracted them properly, and Terran is in between somewhere.
Late game it does get very complicated for Terran and Zerg to deal with mass Carriers/Tempest, because they are very tanky units with great damage throughput. For Zerg players a combination of Abduct, Parasitic Bomb, and other components are needed in unison to ensure you can stay alive – which I’ll admit is no small feat. For Terrans you need some great Ghost work, Raven and possibly a few Yamato Cannons otherwise you’ll be feeling the pain as well.
This is why I think the build time revert was needed – when Protoss players (including myself) were just turtling on 3-4 bases and building up the Carrier count very quickly – the ability to have all those expensive Terran or Zerg counters was very difficult to have ready.
But to revert the health now as well? I’m not sure this is a great step, and I’m sure that with some testing we’ll find a little more balance on this, but for now I’m a little pessimistic about whether I’ll be able to properly bust out the Golden Armada as I once was.
*Parasitic bomb is seemingly useless when used on Carriers/Tempest in only 1 or 2 casts. You have to use it on at least 4-5 units at once otherwise you’re wasting your time.