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Developer Insights: Double Support Team Compositions

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In this week's balance patch, Blizzard is making adjustments to Support Heroes to eliminate the prevalent double Support team compositions.

Quote

"It's possible that double Support has always been the "best way" to play, and the community has been trending in this direction for a while."

TL;DR:

Starting November 28:

  • Support Heroes will have a weaker wave clear.
  • The Damage / Healing Done / Health of Support Heroes will be decreased by ~5%.

The main issue of some Support Heroes (Ana, Alexstrasza) is their lack of self-sustain, resulting in bringing in another healer. The team will closely monitor their performance and continue with Hero reworks where necessary. Blizzard would like to add self-healing to Ana's ShrikeShrike soon.

The official blog post below offers reasoning behind all the changes.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Over the last several months we’ve seen double Support team compositions become more and more prevalent in all levels of play, including esports. While we think this is an okay strategy to see some of the time, we are currently seeing too much of it and will be making some tuning and design changes going forward to address its over-prevalence.

Before diving into the specific changes and reasoning, we'd like to provide some context on double Support and our current stance:

  • We know characters like Tassadar, Tyrande, and Medivh cannot be played as a solo Support. They need to be paired alongside a healer. This is totally fine! We are perfectly okay with these characters showing up in double Support comps (because otherwise they wouldn’t have a team composition they fit in).
  • We are mostly trying to move away from the “double healer” team compositions that we are seeing so commonly. Like everything, double healer is okay in moderation, we just don’t want this to be a common strategy that doesn’t care about map, enemy team composition, etc.
  • Most team compositions right now are setup as the following:
    • A tank for your primary front line
    • A bruiser or second Warrior as a secondary front line
    • A healer to keep your team alive
    • This leaves 2 spots on a team, and with one of those commonly being occupied by another healer or Support, it means we only see one Assassin. This also forces Assassin picks to be into a smaller subset of ‘hyper carries’ such as Valla or Greymane. While these characters are cool, we really want to create some space for Mages and other characters to shine as well.

Along with the above, we wanted to touch on why we think we’re seeing double Support more now than in the past:

  • About a year ago we introduced a new Armor system. This system ultimately made a lot of Warriors more efficient heal targets, and we mentioned that we planned to go through and remove some healing from Supports when we first implemented the system. This is a change we never ended up doing, so we’re looking at taking care of it now.
  • We’ve also been going through all our characters and trying to focus them with specific strengths and weaknesses. While this goal is important to make sure that all characters feel and play in a unique way, it’s also likely made double Support more powerful. Uther, for example, has the weakness of being an inefficient long-term healer, but can prevent tons of burst and keep allies alive during critical moments. If you pair him with someone like Lúcio or Auriel (healers with high efficiency) then you get the best of both worlds; you can prevent burst and out sustain the enemy team. Essentially these healers have more powerful strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses.
  • In a vacuum, our Supports are pound-for-pound more powerful than our other Heroes. They are designed to provide enough healing for a team of five, while still bringing things like wave clear, crowd control effects, or decent damage. It’s possible that double Support has always been the ‘best way’ to play, and the community has been trending in this direction for a while.

So, with all of that in mind, over the last several months the Live Design team has been debating how to address this:

  • If we nerf healing numbers, do we just see teams bringing two Supports more often to have enough healing?
  • If we buff healing numbers, can you make due with a single Support, and potentially see less double Support?
  • Should we be buffing a group of characters that we already feel are pound-for-pound more powerful than other characters?

While we’re still actively debating the best solves, we wanted to take a crack at this, so we have a number of changes hitting the Nexus soon.

Here is a general list of changes we’re making to Support Heroes:

  • Weaken wave clear:
    • Cutting a handful of talents such as Lightning Bond on Rehgar
    • In general, making it so wave clear on Supports is worse. This should be an understood handicap for running multiple healers.
    • Your team will have slower lane rotations and less ability to quickly take jungle camps while efficiently soak lanes
  • Decrease Damage by 5%~:
    • This will also help reduce wave clear slightly.
    •  Bringing two healers will mean your team is giving up more damage, hence having less kill potential.
  •  Decrease Healing by 5%~:
    • This will help address the addition of Armor and will simply pull a little bit of healing out of the game.
  • Decrease Health by 5%~:
    • Certain Supports are unusually tanky for being ranged backline characters. Also factor in that they can heal themselves, and they end up being very difficult for the enemy teams to focus fire down.
    • With slightly reduced health pools, we want to put some emphasis back on focusing these healers.

Individually, each of these changes are small. However, we feel the sum of these changes could have a meaningful impact on the meta. We’ll be reading your feedback, playing, and looking to data to see the results of this. We may be making more changes in the future if this doesn’t do enough.

Before closing, we wanted to take a few moments to provide some context around making sure our Healers still feel awesome:

  • We will continue to do talent reworks and Hero updates to all characters, including Supports.
  • We feel that adding interesting “mini-games” for characters to play can create rewarding and challenging gameplay moments. If you’ve had a chance to play Ana, she can have very high highs, and very low lows. While we’re not going to suddenly make a bunch of our healers skillshot based, we have learned a lot from Ana and will be iterating on things moving forward.
  • Speaking of Ana, and more recently Alexstrasza, healers that have a hard time healing themselves push players into double Support strategies more often. Moving forward, this is also something we’ll be looking at. For Ana specifically, we’re exploring adding a self-healing mechanic to her trait, Shrike. While these updates won’t be a part of this initial release, it is something we’re working hard towards.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully this has provided some context for the massive number of tweaks we are making. As always, we look forward to reading your discussions and seeing you all play with this in the live game.

    - The Heroes Live Team

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"Fixed an issue that sometimes caused players to draft Support heroes." 

I feel as though the 5% nerf across the board as well as other upcoming changes such as the stealth rework are too sweeping and general, and that various heroes will eventually get revisited for a numbers and talent pass, particularly when it comes to differences in kit and roles. Rehgar, for example, was changed to be more like his current iteration after the devs decided he was being taken too much as a backline healer caster; with this nerf, he will go even further back to this old way of being a backline hero, too squishy and not enough damage to do anything meaningful, except that he will be worse off due to the nerfs to Ancestral, the range on Chain Heal and so on, while being in competition with other supports, both old and new, where any differences in effectiveness will be all the more important. That's just one example of how odd some of these changes truly are in terms of swings and roundabouts. 

I'm holding hope that things will feel a lot better once it hits live and there'll be more talent diversity and more varied comps, but overall, I'm just hoping that I'm not deadweight to my team playing something like Tyrande. 

Edited by Plergoth
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Anyone else hearing that silent background voice whispering: "Play the game as we want not as you enjoy it"?

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The real problem that Blizzard refuses to acknowledge is there is no viable team composition that doesn't involve at least one pure healer.  Throw in the fact that Tanks offer the most versatile range of talents leading to a two tank meta, and it follows that a two support meta will benefit said tanks the most as far as keeping them up and running.  Running double assassin simply isn't viable these days, and most specialist heroes don't have the teamfight capability to make them viable in most comps, especially as so many other heroes have significant waveclear anyway.

Personally, it feels like theres a fundamental structural problem here.  I've played about 10x more games with Nazeebo then any other hero, and I can't play him anymore.  Sustained damage over time simply isn't that useful anymore, as there's too many tanks with self-sustain and too many healers who can passively heal out the damage (I'm looking squarely at Lucio here).

Simply put, assassins and specialists aren't that useful anymore.  It's Blizzards own fault really; they keep adding more assassins and making them all more specialized so they all have a niche, but all they've done is made all of them as a group less useful.

Edited by gamerk2

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Seems blizzard just likes to destroy any strategy, any playstyle, anything which is successful  to make game balanced! Well I don't know how long I can deal with these crap updates.. 

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Wont lack of healing just encourage people to play doube supp? lol

8 hours ago, Stan said:

We know characters like Tassadar, Tyrande, and Medivh cannot be played as a solo Support.

And they nerf them too lol. Nerfing Tyrandes dmg which is basically an assassin is a very stupid decision. 
Tassadar was already squishy as he was and the static nature of his basic attacks will make him just harder to play overall. Reducing dmg on both of them is just stupid. They both need their dmg otherwise they wouldnt be a viable pick because they dont bring enough healing/protection.

Ana was already squishy as she was because she had no self-sustain and they make her even squishier. Putting sustain on her shrike seems like very bad idea because in high level of plays Ana rarely even basic attacks, she needs to be safe in the backline and heal people. 

 

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9 hours ago, XeaKon said:

I hope they will not nerf double warrior compositions next as this seems to be the course of action.

They already did and are doing it to warriors.. they are also trying to reduce damage of warriors and improving their tanking in some cases to remove that strategy  too

Edited by MZLICH

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I think they should focus on melee asassins(except Greymane) and buff either their damage or their resistance as bruisers like Sonya and Varian have more resilience while sill bringing enough damage.

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11 hours ago, Stan said:

The main issue of some Support Heroes (Ana, Alexstrasza) is their lack of self-sustain, resulting in bringing in another healer. The team will closely monitor their performance and continue with Hero reworks where necessary. Blizzard would like to add self-healing to Ana's ShrikeShrike soon.

Well, AT LEAST some good news, although it is pretty much putting a bow in a pile of shit, but ok. Let's hope they give a similar treatment to Alexstrasza by making Fire WithinFire Within baseline then.

11 hours ago, Stan said:

In a vacuum, our Supports are pound-for-pound more powerful than our other Heroes. They are designed to provide enough healing for a team of five, while still bringing things like wave clear, crowd control effects, or decent damage. It’s possible that double Support has always been the ‘best way’ to play, and the community has been trending in this direction for a while.

Blizzard's idea was to make Supports unique compared to your typical healer and give them more utility. Now they're tuning down that? Doesn't make sense.

So it's ok to keep the Double Warrior meta, but the Double Support is "not interesting" to them? Bullcheetos.

Edited by Valhalen
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16 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Well, AT LEAST some good news, although it is pretty much putting a bow in a pile of shit, but ok. Let's hope they give a similar treatment to Alexstrasza by making Fire WithinFire Within baseline then.

Fire Within baseline hmm that might be too OP. In case of Ana any self-sustain is better then none right?

18 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Blizzard's idea was to make Supports unique compared to your typical healer and give them more utility. Now they're tuning down that? Doesn't make sense.

Not really. They just want to tune down their waveclear. Otherwise we would see nerfs on their abilities.

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I think its strange that to reduce people using multiple healers, they are nerfing healing...

No sane person I've ever played any game with has ever said, "We have enough healing, bring another healer."  Quite the opposite is true.  The strategy tends to be only use as many healers as you can get away with, and replace them with solid damage if you can.

If people are bringing 2 healers along, its likely because they didn't feel they could cut it with just one.  Reducing healing output is going to make people more reliant on heals, not less.

Edited by KimmyM

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13 minutes ago, xevex said:

Not really. They just want to tune down their waveclear. Otherwise we would see nerfs on their abilities.

Such as having talents completely removed? 

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28 minutes ago, xevex said:

Fire Within baseline hmm that might be too OP. In case of Ana any self-sustain is better then none right?

Could be baseline as 5% as opposed to 10%, maybe even less, I don't know.

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9 minutes ago, Plergoth said:

Such as having talents completely removed? 

Rehgars talent gives him insane waveclear. I can understand why they removed it.

4 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Could be baseline as 5% as opposed to 10%, maybe even less, I don't know.

Yeah 5% baseline would be nice and you could still pick the talent for the additional 10% that would make Fire Within better synergy with Live and Let Live cuz right now if you only hit one hero youre not sustaining yourself enough for such a low cooldown and Life Blossom is not always a safe pick, especially not again dive comps.

Edited by xevex

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11 minutes ago, xevex said:

Yeah 5% baseline would be nice and you could still pick the talent for the additional 10% that would make Fire Within better synergy with Live and Let Live cuz right now if you only hit one hero youre not sustaining yourself enough for such a low cooldown and Life Blossom is not always a safe pick, especially not again dive comps.

Yeah, that really agonizes me, especially against poke compositions and/or DoTs, where you constantly get chip damage that prevents Alexstrasza from staying on 75% health.

Edited by Valhalen

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This seems like a poor way of getting people away from the double support comps. I'm far from an expert at this game (been playing less than a year now) but a more enjoyable way to push this would be buffing the damage on assassins such that a double assassin comp can put out enough damage that a even double support comp can't keep up. Some people might try a triple support composition but then you will likely see a noticeable drop off in damage which hurts on most map objectives. Also generally buffs are more fun to receive than nerfs. if most assassins and specialists are underpowered compared to supports buff the assassins and specialists.  

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" We know characters like Tassadar, Tyrande, and Medivh cannot be played as a solo Support." 

So can someone clear this up for me, when did Medivh become a Support and/or how are you solo supporting with a Specialist?

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I can't say I completely understand how nerfing healing will cause people to have less healers. Unless they want dual tanks every game. The sustain is still needed, and nerfing sustain classes won't fix the issue, it'll just make a pirate ship meta where everyone hangs back because they know they don't have the heals to stay in a prolonged fight.

 

I think they should buff heals slightly and do some reworks that allow for some of the healers to stand alone. Alexstraza is a new hero but if you've played her you know she is infinitely better with a second healer. Her main healer builds revolve around keeping her health above 75% and he main heal ability takes a percentage of her life to heal others. If that's not asking for a second healer, idk what is

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2 minutes ago, Mortimmer said:

" We know characters like Tassadar, Tyrande, and Medivh cannot be played as a solo Support." 

So can someone clear this up for me, when did Medivh become a Support and/or how are you solo supporting with a Specialist?

Medivh is really the true definition of a support, most of his abilities revolve around providing utility and negating damage. He is not a healer though so they stuck him in specialist. Why tassadar is a healer and medivh a support baffles me.

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To ensure people bring less healers we're nerfing healers to the point a lone healer can't keep up.

Alright. Let's see how this goes.

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16 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

The real problem that Blizzard refuses to acknowledge is there is no viable team composition that doesn't involve at least one pure healer.  Throw in the fact that Tanks offer the most versatile range of talents leading to a two tank meta, and it follows that a two support meta will benefit said tanks the most as far as keeping them up and running.  Running double assassin simply isn't viable these days, and most specialist heroes don't have the teamfight capability to make them viable in most comps, especially as so many other heroes have significant waveclear anyway.

Personally, it feels like theres a fundamental structural problem here.  I've played about 10x more games with Nazeebo then any other hero, and I can't play him anymore.  Sustained damage over time simply isn't that useful anymore, as there's too many tanks with self-sustain and too many healers who can passively heal out the damage (I'm looking squarely at Lucio here).

Simply put, assassins and specialists aren't that useful anymore.  It's Blizzards own fault really; they keep adding more assassins and making them all more specialized so they all have a niche, but all they've done is made all of them as a group less useful.

[emphasis mine]

I was with you all the way up to your conclusion - healers are too valuable and the reason is that there are too many assassins?

The part in your comment I bolded is perhaps the best insight in the thread so far: the problem is that healers are mandatory, and the reason for this is that healers exist.

Exhibit A: Riot knows this; their devs have stated repeatedly that they feel "pure healer" characters like pre-rework soraka are toxic to their game design(promoting passive play, long games, reducing champion diversity, etc, basically all the things double support is causing in hots). While I don't play LoL anymore for unrelated reasons (60+ minute games...) I think this design decision is one of their smartest: in LoL supports are tanks, cc mages, siege or map control specialists, and more. In hots, support characters are healers, period, or they won't get picked.

Exhibit B: WoW PvP (particularly arena) was utter horseshit for the first two expansions at least, and dedicated healers were the problem. Even with healing nerfed in arena, healers were freakishly difficult to overcome: being tuned to heal damage from a raid boss meant that no one or two dps characters could actually bring them down without careful cc chain combos. I remember it was a frequent occurrence that you'd finally manage to finish off an opponent's 2 dps, only to spend the same amount of time just standing there waling on the resto druid who can't win but also can't die for like 5 whole minutes. Not exactly thrilling fast-paced pvp.

 

I actually applaud these nerfs because I think they're thinking in the right direction, but I think the real fix is: remove primary healers as a concept from the game. This would be a huge amount of work and require rebalancing basically every hero (besides the full reworks of every support to move them to mage, bruiser, or tank roles) so I don't believe they'll actually do it, but... yeah. that's the only way I see to actually fix the problem of "healers are too good."

Edited by Voltorocks
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I completely agree with Voltorocks. This situation has only occured because Blizzard thinks a healer is a mandatory membe of the team. While I don't believe removing all the healing is a good course of action, I do think the amount of healing should be lessened drastically. Right now Blizzard is at the same time doing this while also weakening the damage of all healers, which is the exact opposite. We just have to wait and hope that Blizzard chooses the better one of these paths to go down.

Edited by Fliits

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4 hours ago, Fliits said:

I completely agree with Voltorocks. This situation has only occured because Blizzard thinks a healer is a mandatory membe of the team. While I don't believe removing all the healing is a good course of action, I do think the amount of healing should be lessened drastically. Right now Blizzard is at the same time doing this while also weakening the damage of all healers, which is the exact opposite. We just have to wait and hope that Blizzard chooses the better one of these paths to go down.

The problem to me is you have a combination of heroes with too much survivability/escape, leading to a focus on burst-heavy assassins (Genji/Greymane).  This in turn leads teams to pick double support to heal out that burst damage ASAP.  Hence the double-support, double warrior meta.  As I noted before: Long term tick damage simply isn't viable in HotS.

Other issues involve mana management post level 10, which is a non-issue for most heroes.  This is a problem, as it leads to ability spamming making most heroes a hell of a lot more effective in lane then they probably should be.  Maybe mana cost should increase for every skill taken for a specific ability to counteract this somewhat?  At least that would make one-talent focused builds a lot less viable.

Personally?  HotS is a great game, but it has significant issues that are starting to become quite visible.

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3 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

The problem to me is you have a combination of heroes with too much survivability/escape, leading to a focus on burst-heavy assassins (Genji/Greymane).  This in turn leads teams to pick double support to heal out that burst damage ASAP.  Hence the double-support, double warrior meta.  As I noted before: Long term tick damage simply isn't viable in HotS.

Other issues involve mana management post level 10, which is a non-issue for most heroes.  This is a problem, as it leads to ability spamming making most heroes a hell of a lot more effective in lane then they probably should be.  Maybe mana cost should increase for every skill taken for a specific ability to counteract this somewhat?  At least that would make one-talent focused builds a lot less viable.

Personally?  HotS is a great game, but it has significant issues that are starting to become quite visible.

If the maximum mana increases over time as the game goes along, they should remove that. Then, the mana management shoudl stay at the same level throughout the whole game. Maybe a small increase in max mana when you pick you heroic, but at least they should make playing support a more mana management oriented task, rather than one that requires good reaction times.

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