#157 - Into the Nexus: “What do I play now?”

• Garrett • Kyle

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Intro:  Welcome to Into the Nexus! The Heroes of the Storm podcast!

News

Reminder, you can go to ITNcast.reddit.com to submit stories or upvote submissions for the next episode.

Life since the Probius Patch

Changed Heroes: How have they landed?

Warriors

Let’s kick this off with Arthas and Anub’arak. In the dev comments in the patch notes they said that these two were specifically targeted to improve their ability to solo tank. Do we feel they’ve succeeded?

Personal Picks go here

Links


Probius is Out

HL - 38.6%

QM - 48.6%

TheNewerBakery

Was it a conscious decision to have Probius' Photon Cannon not prioritise Heroes?

BlizzAZJackson

It was a conscious design. While I cannot completely speak for the Hero designers, I talked it over with them once we started to get this feedback and this was the main reasoning:

We did not want Probius to be a huge lane bully where he could place his Photon Cannon far up and zone out an enemy hero completely due to them not being able to effectively trade against the cannon. We actually had a few play tests awhile back where the cannon was much stronger, and there was lots of feedback that it just feels really bad to play against when it is so powerful and there are few ways for many heroes to deal with it.

Probius is meant to be a more defensive hero in nature. Having the cannon auto-target minions first forces Probius to make a decision - either place the cannon forward and have it help clear waves, or place it behind your wave and use it purely defensively for hero dives.

We aren't completely immovable on this, and will re-evaluate going forward once we get more data on how Probius is performing over time.

Pandaburn

I want to strongly agree that even if the cannon is placed defensively, it's just not threatening enough. It feels like any hero can just dive probius and be fine. I think this could feel better with a buff to the non-damage parts of his w (increasing slow, or decreasing setup time) or just buffing the cannon's damage.

BlizzAZJackson

This is completely valid feedback, and I want to make the point that "the cannon is too weak and it's not saving me when heroes dive me" and "the cannon should target heroes" are completely different things that are often lumped together.

Often, particularly when a hero comes out with a below average win rate, we get the feedback that their kit is clunky and doesn't work, and that we need to completely redesign most aspects of the kit in order for them to be viable. A large part of our jobs is finding out whether or not an issue with a hero is due to the kit itself not working or if it's due to tuning. We go through this a lot when iterating on new heroes, so obviously we believe that their kit works at a base level when they are released.

Sometimes a kit doesn't mesh together for the long term, and we make changes to make it flow better. However, before completely changing how our heroes play, we are much more inclined to test whether or not a hero is losing due to being tuned too low first.

rost473Derpy

What do you think about current probius situation?

Many users are very disappointed and concerned about current Probius design and balance. It is said that Photon Canon (E) is useless and not powerful, and probius's viability is too weak.

Especially, many users and some pro players agreed that Pylon (D) should be charged.

BlizzAZJackson

There are a lot of thoughts!

Builder heroes have traditionally been very difficult to balance, and Probius was no exception. These kinds of heroes tend to be extremely overwhelming when they are too strong, and can ruin the experience in less coordinated play even when they are balanced correctly. Because of this, it's not too surprising that feelings are strong about this hero, especially since he's so darn cute!

I think the design of Probius is correct for many reasons. I'll give a quick list of some of those here:

  1. While we all would love for him to just summon a million Photon Cannons all day, it would be way too similar to Gazlowe who does a similar thing. It would also be hard to differentiate any future Builder heroes in the future if we put too much of their power pie into their turrets.
  2. Summoning so many buildings creates a lot of clutter in our game that causes other problems (minion pathing for one). We're much more cognizant now of how many Health bars and structures a Hero can create, and honestly looking back we likely would not have created as many heroes as we have that summon a bunch of stuff if we could do it all over again.
  3. Playing a builder hero is fun, i'll agree with that. However, the mastery over time is very limiting. For the first ten or even fifty games it's new and interesting, but over time there is little room for real growth or mastery of the hero. We wanted Probius to be about more than his cannons, and we think that this design which relies more on zoning in areas around his Pylons is more strategic than going all-in on cannons.
  4. Probius is meant to be a hero that's not great to pick all the time. Since he's new, he's obviously going to be played in nearly every situation out there, which is going to artificially lower his win rate. When chosen on the correct maps and with the correct team compositions, it's possible that his win rate will increase as people get better at learning when and how he should be used.

I'm a little sad that he's come out a bit low on the win-rate side, at least via initial data, but i'm confident that we can get him to a place where he's more fun to play while still having a healthy amount of counter-play. We already have a few ideas on how to buff Probius if he needs it once more data comes in.


Developer Q&A

The biggest news out of the Q&A is that an Uther rework is coming.

BlizzNeyman on combatting Cleanse feeling like an auto-pick

Cleanse is an extremely powerful tool, that can create some really awesome reactive playmaking and does a good job keeping certain disable heavy compositions from running rampant.

From a balance perspective, we like what it's doing for the game, but we don't want Cleanse to be mandatory to make a Support viable.

We're tackling this from a few angles.

Uther tease in Neyman’s answer

In regards to incoming Support changes, I can share a little info about Uther. He's going to have more frequent self-healing without sacrificing his ability to save others, have the ability to provide short bursts of Armor to allies, and will have an entire tier at level 7 that is built around countering disables in different ways. He'll be a nice pick if your team is a little fragile or the opposing team is burst heavy. He won't have the raw healing output that other Supports can have, unless he's taking a lot of damage himself.

Blizz_Daybringer on recent armor changes to Warriors

TLDR: Soft counters have always existed (ex: Anub’arak vs. backliners). This is future-proofing, not a shift in design direction, and not their intention for rock-paper-scissors.

...let’s look at Warriors specifically for this example. If every Warrior is always good in every situation, players will naturally gravitate towards the ones with the best win rates... This naturally leads to us rebalancing them in order to reach parity. After the dust settles, the power may shift to some new Heroes, or stay as it was – rinse and repeat. This is a very typical cycle of balance which is healthy for shaking up the meta, but never truly solves long-term diversity issues.

By strengthening certain aspects of Heroes, or granting them bonus effectiveness vs. certain compositions, our end-goal is to allow for situations to arise where a Hero that is generally most effective is not always the most optimal choice. This allows for niche picks to shine, interesting team synergies to develop, and most importantly – a wider range of viable and competitive Hero choices...

At the end of the day, we are all in agreeance 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. We never want a game’s outcome to be decided before it begins, but we also feel it’s okay for a team to gain certain advantages through a well-thought-out draft.

Links


New Quick Match Rule

If you’ve been playing Quick Match in the past week, you may have noticed some differences in your recent team compositions. We’ve implemented some changes to the matchmaker to further define some of the role-flexing Heroes to make more consistent and balanced matches. Check out the details below:

Note: Please keep in mind that you may still rarely encounter games that do not fit these new rules if queue times are exceptionally long.

Once you’ve had a chance to play some Quick Match games under these new rules, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. Thanks!


Patreon Mention: Patreon.com/ITN

Thanks to our Patreon producers Declan H, CheezyBob, and Philip P.

Patron Thanks


Strategy

Who should we be playing now?

Since this is how I’ve been breaking the game down thanks to Kyle’s email. Let’s break it down into:

Hero Categories for Battlegrounds

[?] Means I currently suck at this hero. Should I spend the time to learn?


Outro

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Personal Stuff

Garrett

Follow Garrett @GarrettArt

NOMOONart.com for Garrett’s stream designs.

The Angry Chicken: A Hearthstone Podcast

The Angry Nerd

Kyle

A-move Radio

Kylefergusson.com

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