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Why I Think Blizzard Must Revert the Hero League Party Size Change

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Blizzard has now limited Hero League to solo players and parties of 2. Check out why we think this is a mistake here.

 

On September 2nd 2015, Blizzard announced their plans to limit the party size for Hero League to 2, effectively preventing groups of 3 or 4 players from queueing together (groups of 5 players hadn't been able to queue in Hero League since the August 18th patch). Despite a massive amount of negative feedback from the community to the September 2nd announcement (hundreds of comments to that post stand testament), the change finally went live with the patch introducing Rexxar, on the 8th of September.

 

In this article, I will go over my reasons for thinking that this change is not good for the future of the game, and I will make the case that Blizzard has to revert the change, or at the very least promptly offer new systems for parties of 3 and 4 players.

 

Refuting Blizzard's Arguments

 

In the September 2nd announcement, Blizzard provided 3 reasons for why this change was needed and/or a good idea.

 

  1. Players within a party (of 4 players, according to Blizzard, but presumably also of 2 or 3 players) can have varying skill levels. Blizzard claims that while these partied players are happy playing together despite differences in skill, the solo-queuing player on the team should not be forced to suffer this skill discrepancy.
  2. Parties of 4 (though, again, presumably also of 3) communicate internally and are inclined to exclude solo-queueing players from the strategy discussions, reducing the team's efficiency and causing frustrations for the solo players.
  3. There are far fewer parties of 3 and 4 players in Hero League than there are solo-queueing players or parties of 2. As a result, Blizzard felt comfortable removing the former from Hero League in order to improve Match Quality for the latter.

 

In the comments to Blizzard's announcement, which are brimming with outrage and disappointment, players were quick to point out the flaws in Blizzard's logic. I will limit myself to making the simplest cases against Blizzard's argument.

 

Argument 1

 

Argument 1 is Blizzard's strongest argument, on the face of it. Varying levels of skill within a Hero League team can lead to issues. Players who solo-queue end up being placed into a team with much stronger or much weaker players, who are only there to compensate for the skill levels of others in the party. Similarly, they may face much stronger or much weaker players on the other team for the same reasons.

 

An example of the problem (or a connected problem, anyway) is a Rank 1 Hero League player queueing together with several Rank 50 Hero League players. The opponents that the Matchmaking system finds for them will be stronger than the Rank 50 players, but so much weaker than the Rank 1 player that this player can overwhelm them and single-handedly win the game.

 

While this is indeed a real problem, Blizzard is applying a band-aid fix to it, one which causes a number of players to no longer be able to play the game with their friends (which will likely drive some of them not to play at all).

 

The obvious fix to this issue is for Blizzard to improve their matchmaking system. Dota 2, one of the greatest rivals to Heroes of the Storm, allows groups of 3 players and groups of 5 players to queue together. Their limitation only excludes groups of 4 players, but it is still much better than Blizzard's solution of locking out groups of 3, 4, and 5. Moreover, Dota 2 is a game in which individual players can have a greater impact on the outcome than in Heroes of the Storm (levels are not team-wide, there are no "map objectives" as such, Heroes can grow disproportionately strong through items). In other words, it is much easier for an exceptional player to carry in Dota 2 than in Heroes of the Storm.

 

Dota 2 solves the issue in part by having two separate MMRs for players. One is a solo MMR, and the other is a party MMR (in addition to which there is also a separate team MMR). This allows players to enjoy ranked games both solo and with their friends.

 

Another game with similar problems, albeit in a different genre, is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There, players are not limited in the least for how they queue for competitive games (parties of 2, 3, 4, and 5 all work), and somehow Valve have managed to create a working matchmaking system to accommodate such parties. And what is true for Dota 2 is also true for Counter-Strike: individual players have a much greater impact on the outcome of a match than in Heroes of the Storm, meaning that rank discrepancies are even more problematic.

 

How the matchmaking algorithms of these two titles work I do not know, but it is obvious that you can have reasonably balanced games (no one claims, I believe, that the matchmaking in Dota 2 and CS:GO is without problems) without overly long queue times and without blocking entire segments of the playerbase from accessing the game.

 

Argument 2

 

Argument 2 is based on a seed of truth, but its connection with the party size change is tenuous at best. Communication in Heroes of the Storm games (be they Quick Match or Hero League) is not strong. Many games go by with only a few map signals and little or no text chat. This much is true. However, I would argue that a Hero League team comprised of a party of 4 players and a solo player will have much better communication and teamwork, overall, than a party of 5 different solo players, or two parties of 2 players and a solo player. The notion that 5 solo-queuers placed in a game together will suddenly begin communicating and discussing strategy where a party of 3 and two solo-queuers were not is far-fetched.

 

In my personal experience, parties of 2 are often very detrimental to teamwork in general, because they have the ability to lane together and, for the most part, isolate themselves from the rest of the team. On the other hand, parties of 3 and 4 players are forced (with exceptions, of course) to cover different lanes and, as such, be involved in the team's actions over more of the map.

 

Moreover, while a solo-queueing player who is matched with a party of 4 may indeed feel somewhat left out as the 4-player party communicates over Skype or some other voice program, most players would be happy to suffer this loss in socialisation for the added benefit of having 80% of the team working together towards a common goal, therefore greatly increasing the chances of an enjoyable, coordinated game (if not of outright victory).

 

Bonus Tip: What Blizzard could do if they want to alleviate communication issues in the game is make communication easier! One obvious way of doing this is including voice chat in the game. When we asked Dustin Browder about this during our Gamescom interview, he said that it is a feature they are interested in but which they have no timetable for (read: it's not a bad idea but they have no plans to implement it).

 

At the very least, incentives could be given to players who communicate. A system that allows players to commend others for "good communication" and which offers soft rewards for a certain number of commendations (a mount, a player profile) might incentivize communication a lot more.

 

Argument 3

 

Argument 3 is perhaps the most non-sensical. The very idea that there are not many parties of 3 and 4 players in Hero League undermines Blizzard's original point. They claim that since there are few such parties, it is fine to remove them completely from Hero League. However, if there are few such parties to begin with, it means that they show up in few games and therefore also negatively affect the experience of equally few solo-queueing players. What we are left with, then, is the notion that Blizzard were happier removing players from the game completely instead of having a proportional amount of players have a less-than-optimal experience (an assumption which, as we pointed out just above, is very doubtful).

 

Regardless of the number of players affected by this change, the point stands that it is a change in the wrong direction. This is the first time that I can think of that Blizzard is actually pushing players away from playing one of their games. No matter how many parties of 3 and 4 players show up in Hero League, this solution is a poor one.

 

Suggested Alternatives

 

In a recent tweet from Dustin Browder, an Unranked Draft Mode was proposed as a solution. In addition to this, a number of community members have been quick to offer possible solutions. It is my opinion than none of these proposed solutions are viable, and that instead Blizzard must simply revert the party size limitation and improve their Matchmaking system.

 

Unranked Draft Mode

 

An Unranked Draft Mode is a solution put forward by those who think that the appeal of Hero League lies mainly (or exclusively) in the ability to draft Heroes for a known map, and counter-pick the other team. There is a strong probability that this Unranked Draft Mode will make it into the game, as Dustin Browder suggested on Twitter.

 

This would allow players to experience the drafting process without having Ranks to fight over (and for which the MMR system would need to account). It would be, in a way, like a parallel Hero League where there is no stake and no party limitations.

 

I believe that the end-goal of potentially reaching Rank 1 (or at least, a high rank) in Hero League is the main reason people choose to play in that format. The drafting process is a necessary requirement of any competitive match system, but it is not the main reason to play competitive matches.

 

The lack of stake in Unranked Draft Mode leads to a possibly extremely frustrating problem. Imagine that you and two friends queue into Unranked Draft Mode to get as close as possible to a "competitive" game feel. You sit through (and enjoy) the drafting process, you load into the map, and then you realize that your two teammates have either no idea how to play their Heroes or have no real interest in winning the game. Why? Because there is no more incentive to winning this game than there is to winning a Quick Match. Can the same happen in Hero League? Yes, but the incentive of ranks makes it much less likely.

 

Finally, even if Blizzard begin working on an Unranked Draft Mode today, it will still probably take some time to make it into the game. Time during which segments of the player population are left without any viable option for competitive play (and which Unranked Draft Mode does not really solve, anyway).

 

Quick Match and Team League

 

Quick Match is often suggested as an alternative to players who want to play together as parties of 3 or 4. It can be an enjoyable experience, and indeed many players (even those over the level 30 required to access Hero League) only play this format. It is a good learning tool. It allows players to complete their quests or play new Heroes without too much pressure to perform on their shoulders. It allows experienced Heroes of the Storm players to bring their friends into the game without throwing them into a very tough, competitive environment.

 

But Quick Match also has a slew of problems. Because most people use Quick Match to complete quests with Heroes that they do not like to play, or to try out new Heroes, the overall quality of games suffers. Furthermore, since it is impossible to know what Battleground you will queue into or what composition the other team will have, ideas like countering the other team's Heroes or choosing a Hero that is strong on a given map are thrown out the window. These are aspects that add a lot of depth to Heroes of the Storm.

 

Quick Match games also often feature players who are trying out the game for the first time(s), and they have the potential of being mirror matches (which can be boring and, at any rate, reduce the immersion of players).

 

But the biggest problem with Quick Match is that there is nothing to play for. It has no stake. Most people who play Hero League do so not just for the increased level of competitiveness, but also because they want to improve their rank. They want to be able to quantify their improvement and their success. Even if most of them will never reach Hero League Rank 1, it is still a goal to aspire to which motivates players. Quick Match lacks such an end-goal, not to mention that it lacks the ability to pick and counter-pick Heroes based on Battleground and on the other team's Hero picks.

 

Team League is often touted as the go-to alternative for 3 and 4-player parties who cannot engage in Hero League. But this is not a viable solution either.

 

Chances are that groups of 5 or more friends are already playing Team League, provided that they can and want to play Heroes of the Storm together competitively. And if a group has fewer than 5 players, playing in Team League involves a number of things.

 

For one, 1-2 strangers must be found and then brought into the group of friends. Then, a schedule must be devised where all 5 players can now be online at the same time in order to engage in Team League games (and everyone knows how difficult synchronizing the schedules of 5 different people can be). Finally, the aspirations of the new recruit(s) must be appeased (these new players may not be satisfied with losing games, since they joined a team to perform well, and not to play with friends).

 

More than anything else, though, switching from a group of 3 friends to a team of 5 players (including 2 recruits) and using this team of 5 players to play exclusively against other 5-man teams considerably raises the intensity of the competitive level. Long gone are the relaxing 2-3 hour playing sessions after school or work; now you've got "team practice" and you had better not fail!

 

Mixed Hero League

 

This is a suggestion I have not seen thrown around very much, and which I have tentatively named "Mixed Hero League". I propose that this be implemented instead of "Unranked Draft Mode", and that it should essentially be a Hero League that is open to solo-queuers and parties of 2, 3, 4, and 5 players. Any solo-queuing players who do not want to participate here and instead only play against other solo-queuing players would have an option for "Solo queue only", which would instead place them in a sort of "Solo Hero League".

 

This would allow partied players to enjoy the game with their friends in any combination whatsoever, while still giving players the option to participate in a ranked environment where there are no parties. It is possible that not enough players would tick the "Solo queue only" option, of course, resulting in poor matchmaking and long queue times for these games, but this would speak volumes for the popularity of a Solo Hero League.

 

It has been pointed out that it is problematic to have so many parallel matchmaking queues running, but I fail to see how much of a difference there is between two ranked queues (Hero League and Team League) and 3, especially if you consider that both Quick Match and Unranked Draft Mode use MMR, even if this is not reflected in any visible ranks.

 

Reverting the Change

 

In my opinion, Blizzard have no choice but to revert this change and allow parties of 3 and 4 players back into Hero League. I would go so far as to say they should allow parties of 5 players in as well (as Dota 2 does). They must do this or else see a significant loss of interest from a solid chunk of their playerbase.

 

Not everyone who is playing in groups of 3 and 4 will outright quit Heroes of the Storm because of this, but some will. And why wouldn't they, when they can play together with their friends in any number of other online games.

 

I would argue that the proposed benefits of this limitation (improving the experience of solo players and improving team communication) are not worth excluding parties from Hero League, and are also probably not even attainable by excluding these parties from Hero League.

 

Instead of having these limitations, Blizzard must simply improve the matchmaking system of Heroes of the Storm and provide players with the tools and the incentives to promote communication and teamwork.

 

What is your opinion? Are you happy that solo-queueuing players no longer have to be paired with and against groups of 3, 4, and 5 players? If you are playing in a group of 3 and 4, will you switch to Team League? Quick Match? Unranked Draft Mode? Or will you give up altogether?

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So much truth in this post.

I was so dissapointed with these changes, because I was just about to start playing hero league with my friends, and then this happens. HoTS does have alot of potential, the game is fun and all that, but this is just isn't healthy for the game anymore.

The fact that this game is supposed to be heavily based on team work to accomplish your goals, and instead they're pushing us more to queing solo. Just plain ridiculous.

I pretty much agree with your point of fixing the matchmaking system, it still isn't working as it should. Fixing that would solve most of the problems this game has.

Adding voice chat also seems like a good idea, since stopping to write is mostly too slow. In case you're playing in a group of 4 friends, and the 5th one being solo, you can easily share your strategy with him/her with in-game chat, while using skype etc. With your friends to goof around or something similar :D Of course there should also be the option to toggle it off, in case you don't want to use it.

I'm also one of those that would prefer to get rid of random team comps and add drafting in quick match too (it isn't that quick anymore though :D) Sometimes you'll just get so bad team comps that some matches become unwinnable only because of that. This is just my opinion. It wouldn't be that bad to add un-ranked draft mode in the future, when the most problematic things have been solved.

I won't give up on this game yet, as I said, this game does have alot of potential. Blizzard just has to listen to the feedback they're given, especially when the recent changes have left majority of the fans unsatisfied.

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      General
      Performance-Based Matchmaking
      The matchmaking system has been updated to include a performance-based data-driven system, which takes individual player performance into account when determining MMR gains and losses. Under this new system, players will now reach their intended Matchmaking Rating quicker and more accurately. Read our recent blog about Performance-Based Matchmaking to learn more. Game Camera Height
      In-game Camera height has been significantly increased in order to provide more visibility of the battlefield. New Hero: Hanzo
      Once heir to the Shimada clan's criminal empire, Hanzo abandoned his birthright after he almost killed his younger brother. He now strives to perfect his skills as a warrior, and sees the Nexus and its endless conflict as the ideal training ground.
      PTR Note: In order to focus playtesting and feedback on the 2018 Gameplay Update and Stealth changes found in this patch, Hanzo will not be available for play on the Public Test Realm until the week of November 27.  Trait 
      Natural Agility (D) Target unpathable terrain or a Structure to jump to the other side of it. Basic Abilities
      Storm Bow (Q) Activate to charge an arrow that deals 270 damage to the first enemy hit. Storm Bow's range increases the longer it is Channeled. Reactivate to fire. Scatter Arrow (W) Fire an arrow that deals 85 to the first enemy Hero hit. Scatter Arrow can collide with terrain and Structures, splitting into 5 arrows that travel extra distance, ricochet up to 4 additional times, and deal 85 damage each to the first enemy hit. Sonic Arrow (E) Fire an arrow that grants vision in a large area 8 seconds. Enemies inside are revealed for 1 second. If Sonic Arrow lands directly on an enemy, it deals 150 damage to them and follows them as they move. Heroic Abilities
      Dragonstrike (R) After 1.5 seconds, summon a pair of Spirit Dragons which travel forward, dealing 52 damage every 0.25 seconds to enemy Heroes in its area. Enemies in the center take 150% damage. Dragon’s Arrow (R) Fire a missile that travels across the battleground. Explodes upon hitting an enemy Hero, dealing 100 damage to all nearby enemies and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds. After traveling a medium distance, the damage is increased to 200 and the Stun duration to 1.25 seconds. After traveling a long distance, the damage is increased to 350 and the Stun duration to 2 seconds. 2018 Gameplay Update
      Battleground Objectives
      The first Battleground objective event will now activate 90 seconds into the match, following a 30-second warning, for the following Battlegrounds: Blackheart’s Bay Doubloon Chests will now consistently spawn 3 minutes after the final Chest during a the previous event has been captured. Braxis Holdout Beacon events after the first will now consistently spawn 2 minutes and 10 seconds after a previous Zerg wave has been defeated. Dragon Shire Shrines will now consistently spawn 2 minutes after a Dragon Knight has been killed. The first Battleground objective event will now activate 3 minutes into the match, following a 30-second warning, for the following Battlegrounds: Battlefield of Eternity Cursed Hollow Garden of Terror Haunted Mines Infernal Shrines Sky Temple Towers of Doom Warhead Junction The following Battleground objective timers are unchanged: Tomb of the Spider Queen Volskaya Foundry The Minimap will now indicate the next objective spawn location for the following Battlegrounds: Cursed Hollow The first Shrine indicator will appear on the Minimap 30 seconds after the game begins, and subsequent indicators will appear 15 seconds after the previous Tribute has been captured. Infernal Shrines The first Tribute indicator will appear on the Minimap 30 seconds after the game begins, and subsequent indicators will appear 30 seconds after a Punisher is defeated. Hover the cursor over a Shrine indicator on the Minimap to display whether it will be a Mortar, Frost, or Arcane Shrine. Sky Temple The first Temple indicators will appear on the Minimap 30 seconds after the game begins, as well as 30 seconds after all Temples in the same event have been depleted. Towers of Doom The first Altar indicators will appear on the Minimap 30 seconds after the game begins, as well as 30 seconds after the final Altars in an event has been captured. Warhead Junction The first Warhead indicators will appear on the Minimap 30 seconds after the game begins, as well as 30 seconds after the final Warhead in an event has been collected. Regeneration Globes
      Regeneration Globes will now become neutral (claimable by both teams) if not claimed within 3 seconds. Time before Regeneration Globes expire has been reduced to 6 seconds. Structures
      All attacking structures no longer have ammunition. Walls will now be destroyed if their connected Towers and Gate are also destroyed. Walls can still be attacked normally. Tower vision range has been increased by 25% Tower damage to minions has been reduced by 25% Structures now have a warmup period of .5 seconds before firing and must face their targets completely Structure attack warning responsiveness has been significantly improved Standalone Towers (found next to Forts and Keeps) have been removed. The Health, granted Experience, and Damage of Standalone Towers has been redistributed into their surrounding gate Towers, Forts, and Keeps. Forts and Keeps now have True Sight, meaning they will reveal and attack Stealthed Heroes. True Sight is disabled while the Structure is disabled by effects such as the Raven Lord’s Curse or Sylvanas’ Black Arrow Trait. Minions
      Minion base damage has been increased by roughly 10% The 5 second delay before Minions spawn after the game begins has been removed. Mercenaries 
      Respawn Timers Mercenary Camps will now spawn 60 seconds after the game begins Siege Giant Camp Siege Defenders Defending Siege Giant attacks are now telegraphed on the terrain and can be dodged. Siege Laners Attack telegraphing and missile trajectory has been significantly improved. Hellbat Camp Respawn times have been doubled Hellbats will now prioritize structures Defender Hellbat Stats Base health increased by 125%, Health scaling increased by 200% Damage increased by 125% Damage scaling reduced by 50% Laner Hellbat Stats Base health increased by roughly 25% Health scaling increased by 43% Base damage increased by 50% Damage scaling decreased by 66% Damage taken from structures reduced by 50% Attacks now apply a 3-second stacking -5 Armor debuff to all targets, stacking up to 20 times (structures included) Knight Camp Wizard Knight Laner Wizard Knight Laner has a Spell Armor Aura Grants all nearby Allies (Minions, Mercenaries, and Heroes) 30 Spell Armor Spell Armor is immediately removed upon leaving the aura area. This Aura is destroyed when the Wizard is killed Wizard Knight Defender Grants nearby Knight Defenders a 15 Spell Armor aura This Aura is destroyed when the Wizard is killed Sapper Camp Sapper Defenders Now fire their attacks at target areas, instead of directly at Heroes. This behaves like the laning Sappers Sapper Explosion damage now scales over time Health scaling increased by 33% Respawn timer across all maps increased from 105 to 120 seconds Laning Sappers now have 100 Armor vs Structures while charging and Towers will ignore charging Sappers Art
      Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Zeratul has received updated art to coincide with Talent changes. Minimap
      Minimap art has been updated across all Battlegrounds. Stealth
      Added an overlay to indicate when a Stealthed character goes Invisible Added a new Stealth visual effect. Enemy Stealthed Heroes should now be easier to spot. Battlegrounds
      Sandbox Custom Game Improvements
      The following new cheats have been added to Sandbox Custom Games: Spawn Camps Respawn all Mercenary Camps. Spawn Dummy Creates a dialog allowing players to choose a type of dummy to spawn. Player can then click in the game world to create a dummy of the selected dummy type at mouse cursor position. One player cannot spawn more than 20 dummies. When a player deals damage or heals a target dummy the Target Dummy Panel will pop up displaying the damage or healing dealt. If player deals damage to multiple dummies with an AOE ability, the number will be the combination of damage done to all dummies. If the team hasn't dealt damage or healing to any of the dummies for 8 seconds, the Target Dummy Panel will disappear for that team. If a player hasn't dealt damage or healing to any of the dummies for 8 seconds, their damage and DPS will be reset to 0. Clear Dummies If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is unchecked, remove all the dummies created by all players. If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is checked, remove all the dummies created by that player. Toggle Fog of War Disabling Fog of War for a team will remove Fog of War, revealing the whole map for that team. Reset HP/MP If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is unchecked, reset all players' Health and Mana to full. If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is checked, reset the player's Health and Mana to full. Complete Quests If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is unchecked, complete all talent quests for all player. If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is checked, complete all talent quests for that player. Instant Respawn If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is unchecked, instantly respawn all dead Heroes. If the "Share Cheat" checkbox is checked, instantly respawn the player's Hero. Haunted Mines
      Issuing a Move command within the Mines while on the Battleground’s upper level, or vice versa, will now cause the Hero to use the Mine Entrance or Exit that is the shortest distance from the issued order. Summoned Grave Golem Fort and Keep attacks no longer reduce attack speed Will no longer interrupt its attacks mid-swing to use an Ability Now passes through player-created walls rather than stopping to destroy them Ranked Battleground Rotation Update
      Added to Rotation Warhead Junction Removed from Rotation Volskaya Foundry Garden of TerrorThe full Ranked Battleground Rotation is now as follows: Battlefield of Eternity Braxis Holdout Cursed Hollow Dragon Shire Infernal Shrines Sky Temple Tomb of the Spider Queen Towers of Doom Warhead Junction Design
      Stealth
      Stealth players will now become “Invisible” after remaining still for 1.5 seconds. Invisible Heroes will not display the Stealth visual effect and can still be removed from Stealth by taking damage. This includes Heroes under the effects of temporary Stealth effects such as Samuro’s Windwalk or Tyrande’s Shadowstalk. Additionally, Heroes cannot become Invisible while occupying a capture point, such as Braxis Holdout or Mercenary Camp Beacons. Instead, they will retain normal Stealth visual effects. User Interface
      In-Game UI
      General Hero portraits will now be displayed when heroes are inside the following Vehicles, Battleground objectives, or Hero Abilities: Dragon Knight Garden Terror Triglav Protector Anub'arak - Cocoon Lt. Morales – Medivac Dropship Stitches - Gorge Zagara - Devouring Maw Manual Talent Tier and Hero Status Callouts Players can now press ALT + left-click Hero portraits and the Team Level UI at the top of the screen to generate notifications for the following situations: Press ALT + left-click an ally’s Hero portrait to inform teammates when that ally needs assistance. ALT + left-clicking a dead Hero’s portrait will generate a chat message indicating that Hero’s remaining respawn time. ALT + left-clicking an enemy Hero portrait will ping that Hero’s location on the Minimap if they are within allied vision. If that enemy is outside of allied vision, a chat message will inform allies that the Hero is missing. Press ALT + right-click the Team Level UI to indicate when both teams are on even Talent tiers, or when one team has a Talent tier advantage over the other.  
      Heroes
      Assassin

      Nova

      Abilities
      Snipe (Q) Damage reduced from 310 to 255. Baseline quest added: Hitting an enemy Hero increases the damage of Snipe by 5% stacking 5 times. When at max stacks (5) it gains an additional 25% damage. If Snipe fails to hit a target, all stacks are lost. Pinning Shot (W) Damage from 110 to 105 Holo Decoy (E) Added functionality: Decoys now deal 10% of Nova’s damage Permanent Cloak (Trait) Added functionality: Gain 15% movement speed while Stealthed Triple Tap (R) Damage per shot from 338 to 372 (New) Ghost Protocol (1) Activate to instantly cloak, leave a Holo Decoy at your feet, and become unrevealable for .5 seconds. Talents
      Level 1 Advanced Cloaking (Trait) New functionality: Increase your Stealth movement speed by 5%. While Stealthed, gain 2 additional mana regeneration per second. Level 7 Snipe Master (Q) Removed Perfect Shot (Q) Moved from Level 16 Cooldown reduction on Hero hit reduced from 3 to 2 seconds Level 13 Psionic Efficiency (Q) Bonus range increased from 10 to 15% (New Talent) Ionic Force Field (Trait) Gain 25 Armor for 2 seconds after losing stealth Level 16 Lethal Decoy (E) Damage bonus from clones increased from 40 to 50% Level 20 (New Talent) Apollo Suit (Trait) Reduce the cooldown of Permanent Cloak from 3 to 1 second
      Samuro

      Stats
      Basic Attack damage increased from 88 to 110 Abilities
      Mirror Image (Q) Samuro will now appear in the direction of the player’s Mouse Cursor when Mirror Image is cast. Mirror Image damage is no longer a fraction of Samuro’s Attack Damage. Mirror Image base damage has been greatly reduced to 9. Mirror Images are no longer instantly destroyed by Structures Critical Strike (W) Cooldown increased from 8 to 10 seconds Illusion Master (R) New functionality: Reduce the cooldown of Advancing Strikes to 8 seconds Now increases the attack damage of Mirror Images by 100% Now also increases Samuro’s Basic Attack damage by 10% Image Transmission (Trait) Additional functionality: Activate to switch places with the target Mirror Image, removing most negative effects from Samuro and the target Mirror Image. 25-second cooldown. Talents
      Tooltips for various talents have been updated to reflect whether Samuro or his Mirror Images benefit from their effects Level 1 Way of the Wind (E) New Functionality: Gain 40% Movement Speed for 3 seconds upon entering or exiting Stealth by using Wind Walk Way of the Blade (W) No longer grants bonus Critical Strike damage Way of Illusion (Q) Mirror Images no longer benefit from this talent Level 4 One with the Wind (E) Armor gain now also lasts for 3 seconds after being revealed Mirror Images now also gain Armor Armor amount reduced from 60 to 30 Level 7 Phantom Pain (W) Mirror Images no longer benefit from this talent Crushing Blows (W) Mirror Images no longer benefit from this talent Bonus Critical Strike damage has been removed Additional functionality: Samuro’s Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes reduce the cooldown of Critical Strike by 1.5 seconds Level 13 Kawarimi (E) Reduced the time between Samuro issuing a new order after using Wind Walk and the image following it. It should now be harder for the new Image to follow Samuro’s new movements after using Wind Walk. Level 16 Press the Attack (Trait) Attack Speed bonus reduced from 15% to 10% per stack. Maximum bonus decreased from 60% to 40% Harsh Winds (E) Mirror Images no longer benefit from this talent Merciless Strikes (W) Mirror Images no longer benefit from this talent
      Valeera

      Abilities
      Vanish (D) Movement Speed increased from 10% to 20% Ambush (Q) If Valeera is Vanished for 3 seconds, this ability has 5 range and teleports Valeera behind her target. Damage reduced from 180 to 130 Now also reduces enemy Armor by 10 for 4 seconds Cheap Shot (W) Stun duration reduced from 1.25 to .75 seconds Now Blinds the target for 2 seconds after the stun effect ends If Valeera is Vanished for 3 seconds, this ability has 5 range and teleports Valeera behind her target Garrote (E) Silence duration increased from 2.25 to 2.75 seconds If Valeera is Vanished for 3 seconds, this ability has 5 range and teleports Valeera behind her target Talents
      Level 1 Subtlety (D) Adjusted functionality: Now triggers when Valeera teleports to her target with Ambush, Cheap Shot, and Garrote. Energy return reduced from 10 to 8 per second. Crippling Poison (Active) Slow duration reduced from 5 to 4 seconds. Valeera’s poison is no longer removed after the first damaging Ability, but instead is applied by all Valeera's Abilities for 4 seconds. This duration does not start until Valeera damages her first enemy. Level 4 Wound Poison (Active) Healing reduction duration decreased from 5 to 4 seconds Valeera’s poison is no longer removed after the first damaging Ability, but instead is applied by all Valeera's Abilities for 4 seconds. This duration does not start until Valeera damages her first enemy Level 7 Slice and Dice (E) Valeera's Basic Attacks now restore 2 Energy. Level 13 Death from Above (Q) New functionality: Ambush reduces the cooldown of Vanish by 4 seconds. Blind (W) Now increases the duration of Cheap Shot’s Blind from 2 to 4 seconds. Strangle (E) Spell Power reduction increased from 25% to 40% Duration reduced from 7 to 6 seconds Level 16 Assassinate (Q) Bonus damage reduced from 100% to 50% Now also increases the Armor reduction of Ambush by 10 when the target is isolated. Moved from level 7 Expose Armor (E) Removed. Level 20 Nightslayer (D) Removed. Rupture (D) Damage bonus now stacks immediately to 100%, instead of stacking up to 30%. Moved from level 16 Elusiveness (D) Moved from Level 13 Movement Speed bonus increased from 10% to 20% LEVEL (TIER) VALEERA TALENTS 1 (1) (!) Vigor (Passive) Subtlety (D) Combat Readiness (Passive) Crippling Poison (Active) 4 (2) Relentless Strikes (Q) Hemorrhage (E) Initiative (D) Wound Poison (Active) 7 (3) Mutilate (Q) (!) Fatal Finesse (W) Slice and Dice (E)   10 (4) Smoke Bomb (R) Cloak of Shadows (R) — — 13 (5) Death from Above (Q) Blind (W) Strangle (E)   16 (6) Seal Fate (Q) Assassinate (Q) Thistle Tea (Active)   20 (7) Adrenaline Rush (R) Enveloping Shadows (R) Rupture (E) Elusiveness (D) (!) indicates a Questing Talent. Italic text indicates a NEW Talent. Underlined text indicates a MOVED Talent.
      Valla

      Abilities
      Level 1 Monster Hunter (Q) Now tracks stacks instead of damage on the quest tracker
      Zeratul

      Abilities
      Shadow Assault (R) Removed (New Talent) Might of the Nerazim (R) Passive: After using an Ability, Zeratul’s next Basic Attack within 6 seconds deals 40% more damage Activate to duplicate the last ability cast. Damaging abilities deal 50% less damage. This ability does not benefit from talents. 20-Second Cooldown  Talents
      Level 1 Vorpal Blade (1) Added as a baseline ability. Default Hotkey: 1 (New Talent) Move Unseen (Passive) Gain 25% bonus Movement Speed while Stealthed Shadow Hunter (E) Regen Globe required for quest completion reduced from 20 to 15 Mana cost reduction of Blink increased from 2 to 3 Level 4 Combo Slash (Passive) Removed Grim Task (Passive) Removed (New Talent) Psionic Strength (Passive) Damaging an enemy Hero with Basic Attacks or Abilities increases Zeratul's damage by 6% for 3 seconds, stacking up to 5 times. (New Talent) Darkness Descends (Active) Passive: Increase Zeratul’s attack speed by 10%. Activated ability – Zeratul gains 40% bonus attack speed for 5 seconds. 30-second cooldown Level 7 Wormhole (E) Duration increased from 2 to 3 seconds Slip into Shadow (E) Removed (New Talent) Warp Skirmisher (1) Vorpal Blade now has 2 charges. Casting Vorpal Blade also causes Zeratul's next Basic Attack within 6 seconds to deal 30% bonus damage Level 16 Sentenced to Death (W) Bonus damage reduced from 40 to 30% Level 20 Rewind (Active) Removed Nerazim Fury (R) Removed (New Talent) Twilight Falls (R) Activating Might of the Nerazim resets the cooldown of all of Zeratul’s Basic Abilities (New Talent) Shadow Mending (Passive) Zeratul heals himself for 75% of Ability Damage Dealt to enemy Heroes LEVEL (TIER) ZERATUL TALENTS 1 (1) PH PH PH PH 4 (2) PH PH PH PH 7 (3) PH PH PH PH 10 (4) PH PH — — 13 (5) PH PH PH PH 16 (6) PH PH PH PH 20 (7) PH PH PH PH (!) indicates a Questing Talent. Italic text indicates a NEW Talent. Underlined text indicates a MOVED Talent. Specialist

      Abathur

      Abilities
      Spawn Locust (Trait) Health increased from 288 to 316  Talents
      Level 1 Survival Instincts (Trait) Bonus Health decreased from 50% to 40% Level 7 Calldown: MULE (Active) No longer refills Structure ammo
      The Lost Vikings

      Talents
      Level 4 It’s a Sabotage! (Passive) No longer removes Structure ammo Damage increased from 27 to 35 Warrior

      Muradin

      Talents
      Level 4 Sledgehammer (Q) No longer removes Ammo from structures Collection
      Hero Price Reduction
      Artanis’ prices have been reduced to 7,000 Gold and 625 Gems. New Bundles – The following new Bundles and Skin Packs are available for a limited time!
      Hanzo Heroic Bundle Winter Veil 2017 Bundle Winter Veil Classic Bundle New Announcers
      Hanzo New Skins
      Hanzo Kinoko Honzo Sora Hanzo Dragon Hanzo Demon Hanzo Farstrider Hanzo Icebound Farstrider Hanzo Iron Farstrider Hanzo Holy Farstrider Hanzo Scarlet Farstrider Hanzo Genji Storm Oni Genji Golden Genji Nihon Genji Leoric Immortal Space Lord Leoric Lúcio Azure Soundblast Lúcio Lunara Harvest Champion Lunara Zarya Citrine Thunderguard Zarya Industrial Zarya New Mounts
      The following Mounts have been awarded to players who reached Platinum in Hero League or Bronze in Team League during 2017 Ranked Season 3: Titanium Cybersteed Carbon Cybersteed Master Cybersteed The following Mounts have been awarded to players who reached Master or higher in Hero League or Team League during 2017 Ranked Season 3: Epic Titanium Cybersteed Epic Carbon Cybersteed Epic Master Cybersteed Bug Fixes
      General
      Fixed a number of typo and tooltip errors across several aspects of the game. Art
      Kharazim: Kharazim's arms and upper body now animated correctly during his dizzy animation. Leoric: The Shroud of the Dead King Talent will now correctly play an animation and a sound when activated. Samuro: Monkey King Samuro’s model will no longer exhibit flickering during Hero Select while running Medium or High graphic settings. The Lost Vikings: Fixed an issue causing Baelog to cast superfluous shadows on the terrain. Battlegrounds
      Sky Temple: Fixed an issue that could prevent Temple lasers from appearing correctly on the Minimap. Structures: Auriel's Blinding Flash and Artanis' Suppression Pulse can no longer Blind Structures. Towers of Doom: The Headless Horseman Boss is no longer incorrectly categorized as a Monster. Volskaya Foundry: Fixed an issue in which Heroes on the outer edge of the Hall of Storms would not receive Healing or protection. Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Alexstrasza: Life-Binder is no longer interrupted when entering or exiting Dragonqueen. Diablo: Fixed an issue that could cause Shadow Charge to deal its collision damage multiple times under certain circumstances. Garrosh: Casting Wrecking Ball on Mercenaries will no longer cause them to leash while in combat. Gul'dan: Movement caused by a conveyor belt will no longer cancel Rain of Destruction channeling. Kel'thuzad: The Power of Icecrown Talent will now correctly grant bonus Spell Power for enemy Heroes Slowed by Chains of Kel’Thuzad with the Chains of Ice Talent. Li-Ming: Zei's Vengeance and Arcane Orb tooltips have been updated to clarify bonus damage functionality. Damage amounts have not been changed. Lt. Morales: The Second Opinion Talent will now correctly grant cooldown reduction when one of the Heroes struck by Displacement Grenade is piloting a Vehicle, like the Garden Terror. Lunara: Fixed an inconsistency that allowed Lunara to cast Leaping Strike over some, but not all, allied units after learning Boundless Stride. Medivh: Creating a Portal entrance after learning Portal Mastery and then entering the Triglav Protector will no longer prevent him from using the Protector’s abilities. Muradin: Learning Reverberation no longer incorrectly updates the Attack Speed Slow amount in Thunder Clap’s tooltip. Murky: Spawn Egg with the Egg Hunt Talent can now be cast correctly on Volskaya Foundry’s conveyor belts. User Interface
      Death Recap: Fortification Camp Turret attacks now display a Turret icon in the Death Recap screen.