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Heroes: Nov 11 PTR Patch Notes Analysis & Discussion

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Heroes of the Storm PTR (public test realm) patch notes were released on the 11th of November. These official notes can be found here. In this piece of news, I will go over and comment some of the most important balance and design changes.

 

Towers of Doom: a new Battleground

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

The Grave Keeper and Raven Lord have risen over a dark and mysterious city, each seeking to add it to the territories under their control. Now, these Realm Lords call upon the aid of Heroes in their battle for dominance over the Towers of Doom.

 

  • Each Core on this Battleground is surrounded by an indestructible barrier, and cannot be razed by Heroes, Minions, or Mercenaries.
  • Instead, Heroes must capture the Altars that periodically activate within the city. Upon doing so, each of the Bell Towers controlled by the capturing team will fire a payload that damages the opposing Core.
  • Bell Tower allegiance is fickle! A Bell Tower that has been destroyed will respawn after a short delay, aligning itself with the team that took it down.
  • Toppling a Bell Tower not only increases a team’s area of control over the Battleground, but also grants an additional payload in the volleys that fire on the enemy Core after capturing an Altar.

 

I have had the chance to try out the Towers of Doom during my short stay at BlizzCon. Thematically, the battleground is an incredible, spooky "Hallow's End" themed city that pits Cursed Hollow's Raven Lord to what appears to be the Haunted Mines' Grave Keeper. The way they trade insults and generally interact is quite noteworthy; props to the sound design team.

 

Design-wise, the map is most remniscent of Blackheart's Bay and Sky Temple, where the map objectives allow you to indirectly siege your opponents. However, unlike these other battlegrounds (and every other one, really), objectives do not directly take out Forts and Keeps (the latter does not even exist), but rather, directly take 2.5% off of the Core's health per shot. Forts may be destroyed to steal them from your opponents, which adds to the number of shots fired when you trigger the map objective. Personally, I find this design decision to be very strange, as it makes dedicated pushers (Robo-Gobo Gazlowe, Nydus Zagara, etc.) even weaker than before, as their impact becomes only temporary, at the cost of surrendering team fighting potential.

 

Still, the map was rather fun, pretty fast paced, and chaos definitely ensued when three simultaneous objectives spawned. It is currently available on the PTR for those interested in checking it out for themselves.

 

General Changes

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

The XP column on the in-game Score Screen has been removed.

 

This small change has caused quite the ruckus in the playerbase. The main proponents of this change claim that playstyles that focus around sieging (i.e. do not partake to team fights) will feel and appear less useful. My response to this is a less than resounding: "sure but... experience was already a pretty bad metric in the first place." Why? Well, essentially, it did not correlate in any way to how useful you have been as a player.

 

Experience (on the scoreboard itself) is gained whenever a structure is destroyed, or an enemy is taken down within a certain radius of your hero. As such, the guy that has been at the right place at the right time, without necessarily having been relevant in any way, would have a high level of experience gained. In fact, I have even witnessed odd cases where one team had more overall experience than the other, and yet, was at a level disadvantage. Why? Simply put, simultaneous experience gains overlap. Two players simultaneously gathering 50 experience points on the board adds up to a grand total of 100, when in reality, it was not in terms of actual experience. So, in its current iteration, experience was not very useful. Is it a potentially interesting stats to see? Yes, however, it would need to change.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Health and damage scaling for all Heroes, Battleground Events, Minions, and Mercenaries has been changed from flat, additive values to values that are multiplicative by percentage.

A large portion of Heroes’ total scaling amounts, which were previously gained over the course of a game, have been added to their base values.

Respawn timers have been increased for levels 1 – 10.

 

That is a massive change that deserves its own article. Until then, it does have its own Blizzard blog post which can be found here.

 

In a nutshell, however: heroes will be much stronger than they were, in the early game, and see their damage and stats scale less with each level. This makes level differences at all stages of the game less important. Some players like the change, whereas others claim that "snowballing" is healthy for the genre. As for myself, I will have to play with the new scaling some more to see where I truly stand in regards to this change.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Attack speed slows now apply only to Heroes and Summons.

 

This slightly overlooked change is a small nerf to the few heroes that possess attack speed reduction. In practice, it will not do much more than very slightly increase damage taken when clearing out mercenary camps and certain map objectives (the neutral Garden Terror comes to mind). Why did they do it? Hard to say; perhaps they felt that talents that were not intended to ease PvE would be more balanced as such.

 

Heroes that are affected by this change include anyone with the Imposing Presence talent, Azmodan (Fifth Circle, level 20 talent), Muradin (Reverberation, level 1 talent), and Tyrael (Imposing Will, level 13 talent).

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Gathering Power

 

Hero takedowns now increase Ability Power by 2% per kill, up to a maximum of 30%.  All stacks are now also lost upon death.

 

This is the third time Gathering Power is seeing changes, and this one is quite extreme. Our guides have been shying away from the talent due to its sheer weakness (currently, it yields 1% per kill, up to 15%), however, that is a straight up 100% buff... that comes with a big downside. I do not expect many players to wish to play around with such a winmore talent, but then again, the prospect of 30% more ability damage may entice some to walk the razor-thin wire.

 

Hero Changes

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Falstad

  • Conjurer's Pursuit (Talent) removed
  • Gathering Power (Talent) removed
  • Power Throw (Talent) moved from Level 1 to Level 4
  • New Talent (Level 1): Gathering Storm: Permanently increases Hammerang's damage by 1 every time it damages an enemy Hero
  • Flow Rider (Talent): No longer decreases Barrel Roll’s cooldown; now causes Basic Abilities to recharge 100% faster while the Tailwind trait is active

 

Conjurer's Pursuit was an extremely unpopular talent for Falstad - with less than 1% pick rate at all levels of play - so, it is not surprising to see it go. Gathering Power, however, was an essential component of the "mage" Falstad build, and, with the new changes, could have instilled new life into the fading build. Power Throw moving to level 4 makes it compete with the new Flow Rider and Vampiric Assault. This is a bit unfortunate for the basic attack build, however, it opens up Seasoned Marksman for it, which is nice.

 

Gathering Storm seems extremely lackluster; in the early game, where one would want to stack up damage, Hammerang is your primary waveclearing tool, making it awkward to try and use it against heroes. Even then, under perfect circumstances, it will not yield a significant damage increase. The talent is simply undertuned, and frankly, just does not sound very fun. The new Flow Rider, however, is very interesting; its reward, of halving out your cooldowns, is massive, assuming that you can somehow avoid the collateral area of effect damage that would knock you out of Tailwind. Is it viable? I doubt it, but it opens up interesting synergy with the level 16 Aerie Gust talent.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Jaina

 

Deep Chill (Talent); Bonus to the Movement Speed slow applied by Chill decreased from 35% to 30%

 

Jaina's pick rate (and that of her Deep Chill talent, incidentally) is really high as it stands, and being permanently slowed for a lot is not a very fun experience. This change partially helps alleviate all of these issues.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Zeratul

 

  • Focused Attack (Talent) removed
  • New Talent (Level 4): Master Warp-Blade; Every 3rd consecutive Basic Attack against the same Hero deals 100% bonus damage

 

Some see this as a buff, some see this as a nerf. I personally lean towards calling it a nerf because it reduces Zeratul's burst damage - which he is all about - but it does significantly increase his sustained damage. Might we see the European Shadow Assault + Divine Shield combo make a comeback? I hope not.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Kharazim

 

  • Insight (Trait); Mana regeneration granted on every third hit increased from 12 (+0.21 per level) to 14 (+0.36 per level)
  • Iron Fists (Trait); Damage bonus granted on every third hit increased from 100% to 125%

 

Kharazim has somewhat become an inside joke within the community. Initially touted as the definitive example of the potential of the talent system, his Transcendence talent has been... transcending Insight and Iron Fists in pick rates with a staggering 98.8% at the highest levels of play, a situation that is not exactly ideal when trying to display talent craftsmanship. These changes aim to solve this unfortunate situation, but I do not believe it will do much. As it turns out, support heroes are typically expected to put out some healing.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 
Uther
 
  • Eternal Devotion (Trait); Spirit form duration decreased from 10 to 8 seconds
  • Divine Shield ®; Cooldown increased from 70 to 90 seconds

 

Uther is the one hero with a 100% pick/ban rate in all tournaments across all realms. Needless to say that he needs to be tuned down. Divine Shield is a ridiculous yet subtle ability because it single-handedly defines and denies entire playstyles; as such, it is wise to hit that one. It is interesting to note that this 90-second cooldown was actually the ability's old cooldown, back when it was considered subpar.

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Leoric

 

Drain Hope cooldown decreased from 12 to 11 seconds; If Leoric is stunned while casting Drain Hope, the stun will no longer cancel the Ability and the missile will continue to travel. Damage dealt and Health gained reduced from 25% to 20%. Damage and healing now increase over time as a flat value.

 

Do not let the cooldown reduction fool you; this is a nerf. Leoric has been seeing less and less play as of late, so I am unsure what justifies this change. Perhaps it was simply deemed to be too strong against high health heroes. The fact that it is no longer interruptable is nice against Muradin, I suppose. It is uncertain why it was ever interruptible in the first place.

 

Bonus

 

Blizzard Icon November 11 PTR Patch Notes

 

Sonya’s next Basic Attack after casting Ancient Spear will now properly benefit from the Follow Through Talent.

 

This is an interesting "fix". Back when I wrote my Sonya guide, I had assumed that the basic attack that instantly followed Ancient Spear was part of the ability, hence why it did not trigger Follow Through (as the ability was not "completed" until the hit landed). Turns out it was not. Some see this as a Sonya buff, which it is, but realistically, Follow Through triggered on the next attack anyway, unless Seismic Slam was chained up right after the spear. I doubt this will push Sonya's power level beyond reasonable limits.

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