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Heroes of the Storm - Composition Balance

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With hundreds of thousands of games of Heroes being played every week, the rapidly growing beta test is providing a ton of data for interested players and would-be pros alike to analyze. Individual Heroes appear to be reasonably balanced, with only a handful of outliers - but what about the team compositions?

 

The good folks over at HotS Logs provide a service for uploading and analyzing Heroes replays, and they publish some statistical data using matches from recent memory (the last week for individual Hero statistics, and games from the last 60 days for team compositions). Heroes Tempest ran through some of their data, and published an analysis of compositions and win rates in matchmaking.

 

While recreating the exact data snapshot they've used here is almost impossible, since the data pool on HotS Logs changes so fast, it's worth discussing their findings - namely, that a handful of particular Heroes are insanely powerful when taken as a team, irrespective of variables like map/other.

 

While at first pass, you would expect that the strong compositions would just be a byproduct of taking a balanced team (common wisdom is one Warrior, one Support, and one or two of each of Assassins and Specialists [typically, two Assassins]), there are 'balanced' compositions appearing in their Bottom 10 list. What this suggests is that, despite roughly equal overall distribution statistically (every Hero has a global individual win ratio between 42% and 57%), certain compositions have too many favourable interactions.

 

Two takeaways jump out at me, personally:

  1. Team compositions should be more balanced by default. If you solo queue, you shouldn't get hung with a team with four Assassins, or no Support. If you queue as a full team with a gimmick composition, that's fine, but the matchmaking system wouldn't send a party into a dungeon in WoW with no healer.
  2. Heroes need to be balanced with team compositions in mind. As much as I read (and loved!) John Hodgson's piece on imbalances being cool, that kind of analysis makes a ton of sense on an individual Hero level - but even if there are dud Heroes, the way there are dud Hearthstone cards, a healthy variety of team compositions should be viable and balanced.

Looking at the data on HotS Logs myself, it's apparent that there are some underlying influences - stronger teams/players choosing certain Heroes out of comfort, or for strategic reasons - but anyone who has played the game can tell you that there are a core set of maybe a third of the Heroes that get used at a competitive level. Certain unique exceptions, like Gazlowe on Sky Temple, absolutely exist, but they don't tend to be reliable parts of team strategies (fundamentally, the best team comps are ones that work regardless of map).

 

Blizzard has a few options for solutions at their disposal - patching existing Heroes, or introducing new Heroes to fill gaps or create new viable compositions. Being that it is a free to play game, I would err on the expectation of the latter - we haven't seen a ton of major characters yet, and clearly later introductions on to the field can have a major impact (e.g. Thrall).

 

If you've played a composition that blows some of the listed ones out of the water, we'd love to hear about it.

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