Is the latest balance update the best patch ever?
The latest balance update takes care of some of the biggest problems with the current meta. Entangling roots nerf, Varian's Warbringer no longer stuns, and Tassadar shields are no longer permanent-- is this the best update ever?
Malfurion and Tassadar are two of the worst offenders of being blatantly too powerful in competitive heroes. Their pick rates are among the highest in the HGC and they have relegated other support heroes out of the meta. If you look at the top picked heroes from the current patch, you may recognize some of the nerfed heroes from this patch:
Tychus is nerfed, and so is Varian. Lucio hasn't seen competitive play yet but he has been tuned slightly as well. But for most of us who enjoy playing Heroes, the biggest change is the nerf to Murky.
Murky has been raising hell in the Nexus and his changes are very needed. Developers had this to say about the changes:
"Murky slimed his way back to the top of the Nexus, and we’re all still cleaning the gunk out of our shoes as a result. His release pushed him much further than intended, so we’re targeting a series of nerfs at some of the frustrating aspects of the Hero. Overall, his effectiveness will be less reliable, and his ability to slow and zone opponents will be less powerful. Nerrrrfgggle Mrrggl. "
A precedent for further Balance updates?
Splendour of Misfits is bound to be happy after the Malfurion changes. In a recent interview, he expressed that Malfurion was too strong but the only nerf he wanted was to lower the duration of his Entangling Roots. Turns out, this is the biggest change that went through. How often are the exact changes pro's suggest actually put into practice? This isn't to imply that Splendour's opinion on Malfurion single-handedly made the change a reality, but it does represent parallel thinking.
On top of this, when describing the Tychus changes, Blizzard cited HGC matches as an inspiration for the changes:
"Tychus has proven to be just as good at Assassin-busting as he is at Tank-busting, which was never our intention. This has made drafting him a good choice against just about any enemy team composition, which has led him to be one of the highest contested Heroes in HGC. We would like to see him gain the most value from sticking to front-line targets so we are lowering his Basic Attack range to limit his options while allowing other ranged Heroes to trade a bit more favorably against him."
Because the HGC offers us top level competitive Heroes every week, are we getting better balance patches?
HGC is the Key
It makes sense that more competitive heroes being played more often can help the balance team identify imbalanced strategies and fix them. With the increased viewership, one can imagine even more incentive to quickly change repetitive or stale gameplay that becomes boring week after week. Just look at the developer comments with regards to Varian's Warbringer changes:
"The frequency and power of a ranged point click stun was too powerful from Warbringer. While it may have been “balanced” in terms of winrate, its potency wasn’t healthy or fun for opponents."
Did you see that? It's Blizzard making design decisions that aren't about if a talent or hero has a 50% win-rate. By the Holy light!
Of course, not every player agrees with the changes:
so War bringer should be a root. The nerf was way too significant— David Young (@RoflcopterHOTS) February 27, 2017
What do you think? Are the changes too strong or the right balance of solving competitive and casual balance problems?