EPHEMERON means an insect that lives for A FEW DAYS...

StarCraft 2 /r/starcraft /u/TheToastedZealot 41 comments

..and NOT for a WHOLE YEAR.

Hello all.

I am grandma Toast and I'm going to drop some life advise on y'all jumpy lads as my husband currently suffers from alzheimers. The hostility in this community over the past couple of days was completely precedented, and dare I say, called for. Today, from this moment on, we're going to bury the hatchet and show one another some respect. Here's an analysis of what went wrong, the true root causes of the outburst, and how we proceed. As the young folk would say, welcome to my TED talk.



- Be nice

- Be smart

- Be compassionate

- Do post memes that shed light on the current imbalance

Without further ado, the community ass-spanking of a lifetime.

Ephemeron means an insect that lives for a few days, NOT A WHOLE YEAR +.

Look at the Zerg counting his wads of cash to your left. The Terran recovering from surgery to your right. The protoss over there in the corner eating glue - they are the symptoms of this disease we call imbalance. A short period of small imbalance is fine, but when it’s gone on this badly for this long, it's time for the community to intervene.

We're all fans of the same game. We all want Starcraft to be great, the community to be great, the tournaments to be great (except for perhaps the zerg pro-gamers). Take a moment to gaze in horror of this 2019 situation that has destroyed our love for this game and community.

That is the first point I want to make. Ephemeron means an insect that lives for a few days, NOT A YEAR +. Always remember that.

There's lies, damned lies, and statistics.


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What is the problem with statistics? They can represent precisely what somebody wants them to represent. Statistics is a mighty weapon that needs to be used with care and caution.

Are 2019 statistics relevant to determine contemporary imbalance? Absolutely! The 2019 end-of-year balance patch didn't do jack sh*t quite enough and does not represent a definite changing point. Old unit interactions are absolutely relavent in today's balance discussions. A broodlord bug fix or infested terran removal does not affect the imbalanced LBH vs bio/IAC interactions brought by hydralisk/baneling buffs from previous years. Nor does it allow harassment options to fair better vs 8 range queens. The 2019 balance patch is therefore not the "baseline".

We therefore can definitely use 2019 statistics to determine balance for 2020, because the 2019 DEC patch didn't change every single unit interaction. In fact, aside from BL infestor, 99% of the unit/composition interactions remain the same imbalanced state as 2019. Terran and to a lesser extend Protoss come out of 12-24 months of severe under performance relative to the norm. The player base has been expressing frustration for a longer stretch of time. The 2020 patch didn’t quite do enough to fix that.

Also note that statistics will never provide a satisfactory piece of evidence in a balance discussion. The exception is when there is such a quantity of irrefutable and consistent data such as the 2019 tournament results, that one can no longer call it "outdated" or "small sample sized". This will lead to people no longer talking in circles because denying such evident numbers is an impossible task. Imbalance in this case is no longer a subjective, fluid thing. The game will always be "imbalanced", and removing as much of it as possible should be the goal. The goal should be to reach a state of the game where the outcome of a match is determined by player skill as much as possible, and where both players have relevant and impactful decisions to make.

The Final Drop


Many people have wrongfully pointed out that the tournament statistics aren't that bad. Terran has a positive winrate against Zerg, but when you realize half of the data came from the 4 horseman smashing their way through solar, elazer and lambo, a 56% is pretty bad. PvT was even worse where you see the 4 horsemand GETTING smashed by sos and trap. So no, innovation ezing his way through the qualifiers does not have the same weight as his ro24 and onwards matches. Round of 8 distribution was 2T/3Z/3P, which was almost as good as ro1 balance consisting of 1 zerg which is as balanced as it can be! Or perhaps ro8 is too small a sample size to reflect on balance.

When the IEM finals concluded we had two very large problems on our hands. The State of Starcraft first, and the Meta State of Terran secondly.

The State of Starcraft


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What is extremely unsurprising in the current situation is that Starcraft actually is in a surprisingly bad place at the moment. For the past year and a half, Blizzard's balance record has been garbage with the extremely short protoss domination in early 2019 followed by prolonged zerg infestation, and we were often left wondering what the contingency plan was for Starcraft. With the confirmation of 3 more years of Starcraft under the loving care of lord and savior Apollo, Starcraft finally got a bit of good news.

The gameplay in the tournaments, however, was anything but great. Another thing that made IEM Katowice very disappointing was the styles of play employed. Rogue in his interview refers to Baejae-strategies. The meta in IEM Katowice was extremely aggressive to the point where a majority of the games played featured all-ins on 2-3 bases and very few protoss/terran players seemed comfortable going to lategame outside of the mirrors. Such is the result of overnerfing the capital ships and high templar/raven while leaving both zerg spellcasters largely untouched. In fact there were 0 late games of TvZ in the ro24 onwards.

Now, IEM Katowice is a tournament that is positioned a bit funny in the scope of things. Due to the Corona Virus (wash your hands and keyboards you filthy nerds) IEM Katowice was NOT the first large-scale tournament since the patch well over 3 months ago, as HSC also demonstrated the current imbalance. For Katowice, this led to a number of games and series not feeling very fun to spectate (after all, people without Alzheimer’s tend to not like watching imbalance). This disappointment in general may have an exacerbating effect on what happened the past few days.

The Meta State of Terran



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You don't want grandpa to re-hash the statistics, as his Alzheimer’s prevent him from doing so. Throughout the tournament there wasn't much Terran to be seen. Maru got smashed by PvT GOD trap and later by [mr.I-don't-have-to-practice-to-win-gsl-because-i-admit-zerg-is-imbalanced](https://tl.net/forum/starcraft-2/551542-rogue-i-won-because-balance-really-favors-zerg-comments-on-serral), Innovation went into Serral completely prepared with blue flame builds and got smashed anyways, Cure and TY both dropped out in the Ro24 after getting protoss'd by sos. HeroMarine was a split-second away from qualification. The Chosen One had fallen by the hands of Rogue, just as they have by the hands of serral, and reynor, and soo, and dark and...

But to assume the root cause of all the vented frustration was in Terran missing yet another top 2 finish is missing the point severely. The root cause for Terran frustration are a series of imbalances. For years now have Terran players been under-performing relative to what a balanced game would result in. And there really are a few problems here that I feel the need to address in depth, because I firmly believe these lay at the core of the shitstorm we find ourselves in today.

  1. Terran players feel like their race is difficult and weak. There are a variety of reasons for this, the micro burden that is placed on Terran, the constant pressure of the clock, and how extremely volatile Terran armies can be. This is where the Showtime/HeroMarine situation comes up: A fantastic series was ended by one Disruptor hit. To the spectator, this is a 3-action sequence from the Protoss player that can be executed in .25 seconds, but would require 10+ actions executed within a second from activation for Terran to survive. This is the definition of Imbalance. Emphasis on 'Is'. Ever since WOL, the terran army, especially late game, has required more micromanagement to achieve the same effectiveness compared to the 2 other races. However, the majority, myself included, understands this as asymmetrical balance. Terran units are harder to control, but also has a higher skill ceiling such that if they are perfectly controlled (and I mean PERFECT), they can outperform the P/Z armies. This thin line of asymmetrical balance has been stretched to the limits however by LOTV. Not only do they have to hit emps and split vs storm/collosi, they now need to siege/unseige liberators and micro vs disruptors too. Not only do they have to split and siege mines/tanks vs ultra-LBH, they need to micro ghost lib along with splitting vs parasitic bomb. Yes the new interactions require micro from P/Z, but not nearly as much as the response required from terran. Imbalance is a powerful thing.

  2. Its no secret to viewers that terran has replaced protoss as the race with the slowest expansion and economy in LOTV. True, all 3 races have had their macro mechanics nerfed, only to have chrono boost rebuffed and inject queuing added. To add insult to injury the 12 worker start means that all economies ramp up significantly faster, meaning the effects of small imbalances such as supply depots taking longer to build have a more prominent effect. Moreover, this allowed P/Z to access their macro mechanics a lot faster RELATIVE to T compared with HOTS economy. All in all, nerfing the economy of the race that dictates the pace of the game and initiates aggression is a questionable decision to say the least.

  3. The terran late game is debatably lackluster compared with the other 2 races. This differs from my first points about micromanagement, as the other 2 races simply have more generic tools, especially in the form of AOE spells. Protoss aoe are simply more effective once deployed onto the terran army. A single storm or purification nova can end the game by itself as seen with showtime vs heromarine. The same effect cannot be achieved with EMP. I heard a lot of protoss opinion, myself included, about EMP buff evening out the lategame, or even swinging it in terran’s favour. I can see where their arguments are coming from, but whether this warrants an immediate nerf to ravens/liberators against disruptors remains a highly questionable topic as shown in IEM/HSC results. The TvZ lategame raises the question of versatility. The standard lib/ghost shines vs an ultralisk based army, but gets re-countered by a low tech LBH composition. The terran economy/infrastructure, unlike zerg, is not equipped with the same versatile tech switching abilities. Contrarily, zerg hive tech composed of BLs and the arguably most powerful spellcaster pair: viper + infestor, are equipped to deal with any army. If you see a strong correlation between versatility and AOE splash spells, you would be absolutely correct. David kim recognized this crucial point and added in the seeker missile (not to be confused with the imbalanced AAM in 2018). But alas, not all balanced things are here to stay, and with his retirement came the removal of that spell. While the mech late game of BC/Thor seems much more versatile, the recent lurker buffs and BC nerfs are more than enough to bring a check to the “I’ve never seen this strategy lose” terran composition. These are the most likely reasons why we saw exactly 0 games of late game tvz post ro24 in the IEM. Whether aoe damage spells should have game-ending effects is a topic for another matter, but these spells should be available to all 3 races.

Remember Ephemeron. If we form one front and state "We think Terran micro is too hard when multiple fronts require immediate attention and would like help out the terran economy and late game", it's far more likely that Blizzard take a moment to listen.

I hate to say it, but this really is a topic that desperately calls a very good debate.

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