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Starcraft II – surviving patch 6

Beta Patch 6 was rolled out in Starcraft II a few days ago and with it a complete account reset. I had returned to the number 1 spot in my Copper League the previous day by returning to tried tactics like running Marines and Marauders. Backing them up with Medivacs, Ravens, Ghosts en Siege Tanks where necessary. My experimentation had left my win/loss ratio a total mess though.

I jumped into my placement matches with enough confidence. Five losses later,  I was in Copper again. The increased build time for marines and reactors ensured that it was slower to get a force with critical mass and other races had much better defenses up. It did not help either that I had to play twice against the same person who was much better at the game than I. Although it’s Beta, I still believe that it was a mistake to combine a patch with significant changes with the reset. It would have been better to let people get used to the new balance before resetting the records.

Since my record was wrecked anyway (and it’s still beta!), I switched to Zerg. I wanted to try some quick rushes on different maps with various results (mostly disastrous), but at least I know how likely a Zerg rush is now: only the maps with a completely straight line are viable and it works best against other Zerg, since it is then possible to build a Spine Crawler on their creep.

Terran

The intention of the patch seems to be to make the Terran early game weaker. By reducing SCV health points, it is no longer viable to take them on an all-in rush, while the increased build time for marines and reactors significantly reduces the amount of units that can be produced quickly. The reduced cost for the Factory and some switches of Vespene gas costs to Mineral costs make it easier to a more varied force with more mechanical units. The shorter build time for Bunkers has made it even easier for Terran players to wall in. The reduction of the EMP range (Ghost) is fair in my opinion, since it was incredibly easy to strip Protoss groups of both shields and energy.

Protoss clearly has a stronger defense now against Terran early game, while it is less risky for Zerg to expand early.

Protoss

Contrary to the Terran notes, which show a clear intend to me, the Protoss notes seem to make little sense, except for the Stalker buff, which was necessary to help the weak anti-air of Protoss. Observer cost went up from 25 minerals/75 gas/33 seconds to 50/100/40. Observers are weak, slow units, easily countered by detectors, which can be up before the first Observer is launched. The opportunity cost of making an observer in early game was already high. For example, a Zerg opponent could be building roaches and then the Robotics facility should have been producing Immortals. On the other hand, the first Roach attack could have been a feint while a Spire was being built for Mutalisks.

The Colossus does less damage. While it is a devasting unit against ground forces, it is also easily scouted (specific building required) and countered by air. As such,  I think it deserves to be strong in its niche.

The increased build time for the Dark Shrine and making Dark Templars vulnerable to Light armor countering units seems silly, since noone seems to be building them anyway. I have lost to Dark Templars once and that was because I was trying an unviable build myself.

The Colossus’ damage was reduced. While it was (and probably still is) a devastating unit against ground forces, it is easily scouted (specific building necessary) and countered by air, even then, it is not particularly sturdy. As such, I think it deserves to be powerful in its niche.

At least Protoss has to worry a bit less about getting shield-stripped by Ghosts.

Zerg

Not much has happened for the Zerg. Roaches regen a bit less, but they are still a cheap and strong early unit. Banelings actually got a buff (they will do more damage to non-light units now). While the Baneling requires several upgrades and serious micro to work well, it was already a devastating unit against groups of weak units. The additional damage done to Marauders will make Banelings even more a no-brainer against Terran M&M groups.

Although the other races can get into a defensive position earlier, it is also safer for the Zerg to quickly expand and simply outproduce their opponents. Zerg vs Zerg is still going to be two Roach/Hydra forces clashing.

The Mutalisk is and remains the most effective unit in the game.

Feelings so far

Terran has been slowed down, Protoss has received a better early air defense, but a worse information gathering way. Zerg seems mostly unaffected by this patch. A cautious conclusion would be that Zerg came out on top this patch if the playstyle fits the player.

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