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2018 Gameplay Update: A More Meaningful Early Game

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The 2018 gameplay update brings a lot of improvements to the game. This article focuses on updates that make early game and the laning phase more impactful.

It does not contain any information about performance-based matchmaking. For more information about the gameplay update, don't forget to check out the most recent developer Q/A here.

TL;DR

  • Structures
    • Will have infinite ammo.
    • Standalone towers will be removed.
    • True sight will be added to Structures.
      • True sight means that towers will detect stealthed Heroes.
  • Regeneration Globes
    • Will switch from allied to neutral after 3 seconds and remain available for either team to pick up for an additional 3 seconds.
  • Battleground Mechanics
    • Many objective timers have been simplified.
    • Players will receive objective information earlier.
  • Mercenary Camps
    • Knights will have more pushing power.
    • Enemies hit by Hellbats will have their armor slightly reduced for a few seconds.
    • Siege Giants can be captured without taking any damage.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

As mentioned in the BlizzCon 2017 opening ceremony and during our “What’s Next” panel, we will soon be introducing an array of significant changes for Heroes of the Storm’s early game as part of our 2018 Gameplay Update. Read on for an in-depth look at some of the adjustments coming to the Nexus later this month, as well as our reasoning behind them.

What’s Changing and Why

The early game in Heroes of the Storm typically breaks down into two parts: the laning phase and initial battleground objectives. The laning phase offers opportunities for players to have small skirmishes in each lane, show off individual skill by outplaying opponents, and get in some early structure damage. During most games, the laning phase currently ends more quickly than we’d like, and outplaying an opponent in a lane doesn’t have much tangible impact on a match as a result.

With this in mind, we wanted to revisit these experiences to explore ways we could make improvements. We’ve re-evaluated our approach to many aspects of the early game, and made a variety of changes to structures, regeneration globes, mercenary camps, and even our objective spawns, to make laning more meaningful throughout a match. 

Structures

Ammunition Removed

Currently, towers, forts, and keeps have a limited number of shots and regenerate ammo slowly. Often, players will quickly defeat a minion wave, and then play safe while their own minions push enemy towers and drain ammunition. We wanted to revisit this relationship to see if we could find a way to encourage more offensive play in-lane.

After testing a variety of changes internally, we decided to remove structure ammunition, effectively giving towers, forts, and keeps an infinite number of shots. Since ammo can no longer be depleted, we’ve also reduced structure damage to minions, and increased minion damage to help them hit a little harder. These changes should give players a bit more incentive to attack with their minion waves in order to deal more meaningful damage to opposing towers. 

Standalone Towers Removed

We also began re-evaluating individual structures, and found the standalone towers near forts and keeps aren’t coming into play as often as we’d hoped. Once they do, it’s usually too late, and the other structures have already been destroyed. Standalone towers can also block defenders during critical moments, making it easier for enemies to predict their movements and pick them off.

As a result, we’ve decided to remove standalone towers, and have been happy with how this has played out in testing so far. In fact, we’ve already tried out this change in the live game with our newest battleground, Volskaya Foundry, which was released earlier this year without standalone towers. To compensate for the removal of standalone towers, we've rolled some of their stats into surrounding gate towers, forts, and keeps, to beef them up and help maintain the relationships between fortifications and battleground objectives.

True Sight

Characters like Abathur and Murky commonly rely on standalone towers as protection against stealth Heroes like Zeratul, who are looking to hunt them down. Removing those towers makes these Heroes more vulnerable, but we still want players to be able to defend their fortifications effectively. We’ve given True Sight to Forts and Keeps, which already exists on the Core and reveals any enemy stealth Heroes who enter the structure’s attack range. Despite the removal of standalone towers, players should feel a little safer while trying to hold off attacks.

Regeneration Globes

We like what regeneration globes currently do for the game, but also wanted to see if there were any changes we could implement to make them even more impactful. Currently, they encourage players to consider how they approach fights over minion waves in order to maximize sustain and keep up the pressure in a lane. They also disappear if no allies pick them up after a few seconds.

We’ve tweaked regeneration globes so they instead switch from allied to neutral after 3 seconds and remain available for either team to pick up for an additional 3 seconds. This will give players more opportunities to think critically about how to win their lanes, and skilled players will be able to grab up to twice as many globes as before.

Battleground Mechanics

In addition to making the laning phase in Heroes more meaningful, we want to give players more time to make an impact and show off their skill in the early game before they are pulled away to contest an objective. As a result, we’re going to push back our initial objective timers a bit in order to provide that space. We’re also planning to simplify timers across all battlegrounds, and give earlier objective notifications so that players can make the most of the laning phase in each match.

Objective Timers, Simplified

While having a large number of unique battlegrounds to compete on offers a wide variety of strategies and dynamic gameplay, it also means players have a lot to keep in mind from one game to the next. Thus far, many of our battlegrounds have had differing rulesets and timers that players need to memorize, and we want to simplify this so they are easier to remember across the board.

  • The first objective will now spawn 1 minute and 30 seconds into a match on the following battlegrounds:
    • Blackheart’s Bay
    • Braxis Holdout
    • Dragon Shire
  • The first objective will now spawn 3 minutes into a match on the following battlegrounds:
    • Battlefield of Eternity
    • Cursed Hollow
    • Garden of Terror
    • Haunted Mines
    • Infernal Shrines
    • Sky Temple
    • Towers of Doom
    • Warhead Junction
  • We’ve been happy with Tomb of the Spider Queen and Volskaya Foundry, so we will not be changing the initial timers on these battlegrounds.

Earlier Objective Information

Since we were already making objective timers more uniform, we felt that players would benefit from consistent and earlier warnings about upcoming objective spawns. Going forward, players will receive 30 second objective spawn warnings across all battlegrounds so that teams are able to coordinate, reposition, and change lanes in time.

Additionally, to give players even more information to work with, the minimap will now indicate where the next objective will appear on battlegrounds with a variety of objective spawn locations. These objective icons will appear on the minimap shortly after game start, as well as a few moments after the previous objective or event has come to an end. This will allow players ample time to plan ahead before the next objective, and give them opportunities to think about when they should take a mercenary camp, which lane they should push, and what their strong lane should be well before each objective activates.

Match Length

We believe the sweet spot for match length in Heroes is around 20 minutes, and maintaining that has been a crucial part of our approach to these objective changes. We haven’t seen game times increasing during internal testing or the PTR, and we'll continue to keep a close eye on this once these changes are live.

Mercenary Camps

We revisited many of our mercenary camps to ensure they’re offering diverse strategic options, and having a noticeable impact when they are utilized to their full potential. Below, we’ve highlighted significant changes for Knights, Hellbats, and Siege Giants, but we’re also going to monitor our other mercenary camps to make sure they remain powerful across all stages of a match. 

Knight Camps

We felt the removal of tower ammunition weakened the role of Knight Camps a bit, and we wanted to ensure they maintain a unique identity and purpose. To achieve this, we’re giving Knight Camps more pushing power through the Knight Wizard, who will now emit a spell armor aura to buff all nearby allied units, including Heroes. This should make Knights a more formidable force when they’re barreling down a lane, especially when accompanied by Heroes. 

Hellbat Camps

We’d like Hellbats to offer a more engaging experience during lane combat than they currently do. In addition to a few balance tweaks, enemies hit by their basic attacks will now have their armor slightly reduced for a few seconds. This armor reduction effect can stack, so players will want to be more careful about how they approach enemy Hellbats in a lane—it can be quite punishing to take on the opposing team when Hellbats are near. 

Siege Giant Camps

While we’re happy with Siege Giants for the most part, we found that we could improve on their role further by adjusting their basic attacks. Going forward, players will now be able to dodge defending Siege Giant attacks while fighting them in their camps. By paying close attention and dodging consistently, players will be able to capture Siege Giants without taking damage. Players can already dodge Siege Giant attacks in lanes, but this isn't as clear as it could be, so we’re going to tweak those visual effects so players know exactly when to dive out of the way.

All of these changes amount to significant adjustments to the game as a whole, but we’re still very happy with Heroes of the Storm’s core gameplay. With the 2018 Gameplay Update, we’re primarily looking to improve on areas of the game we think are already fun in order to make them even better, and we appreciate your continued feedback as you playtest in the Public Test Realm.

Until next time, we’ll see you in the Nexus!

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Ok, but what about other types of Mercenaries out there? Will the Diablo themed ones be changed, same for the Overwatch ones.

Not to mention bosses

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The Impaler camp seems weak but that is about it. The ammo removal is a fundamental change of the game or "core" as they say it. MAKE AMMO REPLENISH FASTER INSTEAD OF REMOVING IT.

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1 hour ago, XeaKon said:

The Impaler camp seems weak but that is about it. The ammo removal is a fundamental change of the game or "core" as they say it. MAKE AMMO REPLENISH FASTER INSTEAD OF REMOVING IT.

I believe they gave it infinite ammo to make up for the loss of the stand-alone tower... reducing the ammo recharge rate will make them weaker, which Blizzard really doesn't want...

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1 hour ago, XeaKon said:

The Impaler camp seems weak but that is about it. The ammo removal is a fundamental change of the game or "core" as they say it. MAKE AMMO REPLENISH FASTER INSTEAD OF REMOVING IT.

Ammo is redundant mechanic. There is no upside to keeping it in the game, it only adds confusion.

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The devs mentioned during BlizzCon that they we're going to zoom out the in-game camera. I wonder, when is this change coming to the live servers?

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True sight will possibly be the nail in the coffin for the stealthies, though I suppose Zeratul will survive with void prison.

The main feature I'm still waiting on though is in game voice chat.   

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32 minutes ago, Fliits said:

The devs mentioned during BlizzCon that they we're going to zoom out the in-game camera. I wonder, when is this change coming to the live servers?

The patch is available for testing until December 11 and as far as I know, they're aiming for a mid-December release.

4 minutes ago, Migol said:

True sight will possibly be the nail in the coffin for the stealthies, though I suppose Zeratul will survive with void prison.

The main feature I'm still waiting on though is in game voice chat.   

Voice chat will be added at a later point I guess, because it's not available on PTR right now, or mentioned in the patch notes.

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36 minutes ago, Migol said:

True sight will possibly be the nail in the coffin for the stealthies, though I suppose Zeratul will survive with void prison.

They're compensating that by making stealthies more combat oriented. Valeera will have a sick combo that can deal over 2k damage.

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7 hours ago, Migol said:

True sight will possibly be the nail in the coffin for the stealthies, though I suppose Zeratul will survive with void prison

almost certainly not true, as this update is paired with a complete rework of the stealth mechanic and all the heroes that use it;. namely, that a large portion of their power budget is being shifted from stealth to other areas of their kit. (depending on who you ask, nova might be an exception to the rule, as her main buff is ghost protocol baked-in. given that she is the only ranged stealthie, though, true sight is unlikly to do much to her besides make her a bit careful about positioning.)

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11 hours ago, Fliits said:

Ammo is redundant mechanic. There is no upside to keeping it in the game, it only adds confusion.

It looks redundant because it was poorly implemented. This is why I ask for an improvement.

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Am I the only one who thinks the regen globe thing will have lots of implications? Like any good solo laner matched against someone just trying to safely soak is going to get twice the sustain. Diablo's devils due? Mings 1st tier dmg buff? All the globe quests? I think it will make more balance changes necessary 

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56 minutes ago, RoadtoRindokan said:

Am I the only one who thinks the regen globe thing will have lots of implications? Like any good solo laner matched against someone just trying to safely soak is going to get twice the sustain. Diablo's devils due? Mings 1st tier dmg buff? All the globe quests? I think it will make more balance changes necessary 

I agree.  If you are winning your matchup and don't get rotation help, it will snowball.  Especially for heroes with quests.  Like if Jaina bullies her lane she will complete her level 1 quest fast. Though with the quests spawning earlier that will negate somr of the snowballing, unless you have sylv rushing a wall during first obj.  I can see some early sylv team pushes being very significant with the stand alone tower gone.  Take down the wall and the fort will take extra damage during objectives.

 

This could also be a buff for junkrat.  Deny them globes with displacement and you can steal them for your team.

Edited by ArtVandelay

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On 12/6/2017 at 12:58 AM, Valhalen said:

Valeera will have a sick combo that can deal over 2k damage.

Thats most certainly not true, shes same old just more utility like teleports baseline, blind on cheap shot and a ridiculous 2.75 seconds silence on Garrote which will be nerfed back after one week. 

Her dmg is basically nerfed and because Garrote is basically the strongest right now shes basically a stealthed basic attacker. She will probably be bottom tier in Platinum and up.

The funny thing is they wanted to balance the stealthies to make them better at high levels of play but easier to deal with in QM/Unranked but Valeera, well shes gonna be a pain for newbs.

Edited by xevex

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10 hours ago, RoadtoRindokan said:

Am I the only one who thinks the regen globe thing will have lots of implications? Like any good solo laner matched against someone just trying to safely soak is going to get twice the sustain. Diablo's devils due? Mings 1st tier dmg buff? All the globe quests? I think it will make more balance changes necessary 

In theory, strong duelists will be able to more easily bully their lane.

My concern is certain heroes like Aba are basically useless now.  Much of hit kit was based around pushing passively and eating turret shots.  I can't see any circumstance where Aba is even remotely good now. 

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On 12/6/2017 at 12:51 AM, Fliits said:

Ammo is redundant mechanic. There is no upside to keeping it in the game, it only adds confusion.

spoken like a true lol player.Ammo prevented turtling.It gave value to specialists. Just like all the changes since alpha,their only true reason is that people cant handle a game that isnt simple like league.They even added earlier warnings for obj because people still dont undestand what this even is.

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22 minutes ago, Kurosu said:

spoken like a true lol player.Ammo prevented turtling.It gave value to specialists. Just like all the changes since alpha,their only true reason is that people cant handle a game that isnt simple like league.They even added earlier warnings for obj because people still dont undestand what this even is.

That may be true, but Blizzard's argument is very solid about this. Ammo diminishes the value of laning because you just wait for the minions to soak all the ammo instead of pushing with them, like Blizzard originally intended.

I understand the concern regarding Abathur becoming completely irrelevant because one of his main functions was to split push and soaking ammo, but maybe Blizzard could do some minor tweaks to his abilities. Maybe make his Locusts take reduced damage from structures, or maybe even make the Locusts naturally apply a debuff similar to Imposing PresenceImposing Presence which would only affects structures; that way they would have some weight to sieging to compensate the ammo removal.

Edited by Valhalen
  • Like 2

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9 hours ago, Valhalen said:

That may be true, but Blizzard's argument is very solid about this. Ammo diminishes the value of laning because you just wait for the minions to soak all the ammo instead of pushing with them, like Blizzard originally intended.

I understand the concern regarding Abathur becoming completely irrelevant because one of his main functions was to split push and soaking ammo, but maybe Blizzard could do some minor tweaks to his abilities. Maybe make his Locusts take reduced damage from structures, or maybe even make the Locusts naturally apply a debuff similar to Imposing PresenceImposing Presence which would only affects structures; that way they would have some weight to sieging to compensate the ammo removal.

Yes please tell me more about how constantly turtling and hiding under  2 turrets  is NOT diminishing laning.

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On 08/12/2017 at 10:55 PM, Kurosu said:

Yes please tell me more about how constantly turtling and hiding under  2 turrets  is NOT diminishing laning.

It doesn't. If that happens then the hero turtling is clearly losing the power struggle in the lane, never getting any purchase on the enemy towers while theirs' take damage or they take damage and eventually have to hearth back leaving the lane open; all the while the objective happens and whatever else is going on. I don't see any diminishing here; please explain your point

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On 12/10/2017 at 6:02 PM, MurkyFelix said:

It doesn't. If that happens then the hero turtling is clearly losing the power struggle in the lane, never getting any purchase on the enemy towers while theirs' take damage or they take damage and eventually have to hearth back leaving the lane open; all the while the objective happens and whatever else is going on. I don't see any diminishing here; please explain your point

If you are not smart enough to realise the problem with this change and the benefits of turret ammo,there is no point tryint to explain it or  argue with you. Hopefully you will see it when the change goes live though.

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10 hours ago, Kurosu said:

If you are not smart enough to realise the problem with this change and the benefits of turret ammo,there is no point tryint to explain it or  argue with you. Hopefully you will see it when the change goes live though.

Simply sounds like a cop-out from someone who doesn't have a point to explain. How can I understand your point if all you're gonna do is insult people? Anyway; there is no way to know about any so called diminishing until the game is played so all discussions are poo until it analysed properly.

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11 hours ago, MurkyFelix said:

Simply sounds like a cop-out from someone who doesn't have a point to explain. How can I understand your point if all you're gonna do is insult people? Anyway; there is no way to know about any so called diminishing until the game is played so all discussions are poo until it analysed properly.

Oh  my sweet summer child :)

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      Hey, thanks for the question Lorhand.
      We do spend time discussing all of our game modes, identifying what is working well and where we can make improvements. For Team League specifically, we don’t have any immediate answers. I can provide you with some of the ideas we’ve been brainstorming that would end up being a significant overhaul to TL. Bear in mind that all of this is very much still a work in progress and in an early discussion stage. We would love to hear the community’s feedback on any of this, so please let us know what you think or if you have any other ideas:
      Team League becomes a mode that is only available during specific windows of time for a limited duration. In this version, Team League wouldn’t always be available, but we would be creating a moment and celebrating the mode during these windows, encouraging players to play in it. This could mean the mode is only available on weekends, or something rarer like specific weeks out of a month block, or a handful of times throughout an entire ladder season. Team League is updated to allow all group sizes, including solos and 4-player parties. Combine TL and HL into a single queue. This has some obvious issues – we want to make sure that our dedicated HL players still feel like they can have that ‘pure’ experience. Maybe having multiple ladders based off your group size (specifically a solo queue ladder) would alleviate concerns here. At least then, solo queue players would be ranked only against other solo queue players. Turn TL into a more structured experience that embraced players forming permanent or semi-permanent teams. Essentially, players would create a team name, have a limited roster of players available, potentially customize something visual to represent their team, etc. In this version, teams would likely last an entire season, or this could be combined with something like the first option where this is your team for a limited window of time. Ultimately, we do want to increase participation in Team League. However, as I know this will come up as a suggestion and we’ve seen it before, we don’t want to ‘force’ players into this competitive mode if they aren’t looking for this competitive experience. We want players to be happy engaging in whatever game mode(s) they enjoy, so increasing the number of games to unlock TL rewards from 10->30, or adding more rewards is not something we’re excited about.
      What are the metrics for expected match quality in HL and TL? Is it limited to keeping the chance either team wins close to 0.5, or are there other factors as well, like player strength spread? If so, how are those weighed against each other?
      For example, would the matchmaker consider a match between some team A and some team B where it estimates exactly even odds of winning, where team A has a player in bronze and a player in GM better than a match of all GM player and Master players in both teams, where it expects one team to win with 0.6 odds?
      I love stats questions!
      Our Matchmaker uses several criteria to find a winrate. These include, but are not limited to:
      Games played MMR spread (when playing in a party of more than 1) How many games you have played with the hero you have (Quick Match/vs AI) Game Density (How many games you have played in an amount of time) Other spooky things It then does a bunch of maths that I just about understand to calculate the expected probability of winning the game. This is also a rule, (other rules are listed elsewhere in this AMA) so it won’t accept win probabilities outside of a certain range.
      The HL/TL decay timers are only shown to players after they finish their placements.
      Does the decay timer secretly affect players who are in placements? E.g. suppose I play 5 placement games, quit for 40 days, then come back and finish my placements.
      Hello minor_correction, thank you for your question!
      So...a minor correction! TL doesn't have decay timers and ranked decay enabled! The decay timers do not secretly affect players who are in placements. Only when a player has finished all their placement matches, are the decay timers initiated. However, we hope our players remain actively engaged as there is always content coming out and you may miss out on some of our events if you quit for 40 days. I certainly hope you managed to catch Nexxomania!
      Do you have any estimate as to when we will see performance-based matchmaking in the game?
      The two big features on the horizon for Hero League are Loss Forgiveness and Performance Based Matchmaking. Of those, Loss Forgiveness is the first in line for development, while Performance Based Matchmaking will follow shortly after. I can't commit to an exact timeline for these just yet.
      I kind of find promotion and demotion games in the same league annoying. Going from Plat 2 to Plat 1 and vice versa, they don't make much of a difference to me.
      My question is, are you so far happy with this, or do you plan to change anything here? Like only making promo and demo games between leagues.
      I tend to agree. I feel that moving between divisions shouldn't require this an additional layer of ladder anxiety. We intend to remove promotion/demotion games between divisions in the future, keeping these higher-pressure matches limited to moving between leagues. We don't have that on the schedule at the moment so I don't want to promise a timeline for delivery.
      Do you have plans to show mmr to the players and when would that be?
      We intend to display MMR to players as part of the Performance Based Matchmaking system. We have a new visualization of hero performance that helps reinforce the MMR means. I don't have a date for the release of this feature just yet. As we get nearer to its release we'll be sure to get a blog post up that describes the system, and the changes that will be coming along with it.
      Loss Forgiveness
      “Disconnecting” in game yields (-200) points and ‘x’ games of quick match.
      “Disconnecting”in draft yields (-600) points and same number of quick match games.
      The new trend is to load into a game and “disconnect” to avoid the additional (-400) points.
      Having an AI team mate is a significant disadvantage.
      what (if any) plans can you share about loss forgiveness for those 4 people who stuck it out?”
      We're working on a Loss Forgiveness feature right now that addresses these very concerns. In situations where a player deserts their team they will be punished appropriately, while their teammates will have no points deducted for that loss. If the undermanned team wins with an AI in-tow (it does happen occasionally!) they will still earn points for their grit.
      Every now and then we find complaints about matchmaking, mainly because the system rules aren’t clear or visible. Are you planning on making that information available somewhere handy such as in-game?
      We are currently iterating on our Hero League rules based on the feedback we are getting regarding match quality/wait times/game server as well as updating Quick Match with more concrete rules on team composition.
      Once we are in a place where we think (and hopefully you also think!) that these rules create suitable matches for everyone in a reasonable time, having a discussion on putting out something that explains how these rules work would be a great idea!
      What plans do you think will be implemented this season? Next season?
      The Season 3 patch included a ton of changes to Hero League, though not all of them are player-facing. We're still planning on making improvements to matchmaking rules, but right now, we're focused on fixing bugs, and improving our matchmaking data collection. For example, while investigating reports of rainbow matches in Hero League, we uncovered an issue where players will very rarely incorrectly ping lower to a region outside their own when they have "best site" selected in their options menu. When this issue occurs, a player will make matches on that server, which may have different matchmaking rules that allow for rainbow matches to occur. We're currently in the process of resolving this issue, which takes priority over feature development.
      For Season 4, 2018 we plan to continue examining the quality of matches as well as the end of season impact of Rank Decay. Our feature development efforts have primarily been focused on hardening the Quickmatch matchmaking experience. We're also deep into development on a Loss Forgiveness feature that will prevent point/MMR loss for players who were stuck with a leaver while also punishing frequent leavers.
      Here's a quick list of some of the changes we're considering for the future:
      Preventing returning ranked players from placing higher than Diamond 3 each season-roll after placements. Reducing the number of placement games required for returning ranked players. Separating out the regional GM ladders to allow players to rank up within their local playerbase and matchmaking rulesets. Adding draft swaps for Hero League. Further extending the Rank Point Decay to affect additional leagues. Creating more incentive for Team League a topic that U/BlizzCooper is posting about separately in a moment. It's been shown that people remember negatives over positives.
      That leaves videogames, like HOTS, in a tough spot.
      Statistically, if someone plays enough matches they should end up at their proper rank regardless of the "stubbed toe" matches (leaver, troll, etc).
      However, it's entirely possible that someone may play only a handful of matches a week. And if I play five games with two stubbed toes that looks awful.
      Given that the perception is so negative, is there anything that can be done (it might be impossible for all I know) to address the stubbed toe problem from a matchmaking perspective?
      This touches on a lot of the things we are currently working on to make the experience better for everyone:
      Loss Forgiveness
      It sucks when you lose a game because someone disconnected and never came back and you had to play with the AI and the AI did things that aren’t becoming of a Diamond 3 player and now your Core is on fire and your team is sad and that player who left is sitting on a beach somewhere and you wish all their books became the Twilight series (or whatever kinds of books you don't like).
      Our aim with this is to make those games not count against you anymore, so you are not punished for having to complete a game in that situation, which should lessen the negativity felt for it (you still had to play it, which is a tough situation, but the result of that has been negated, and the leaver suitably punished).
      Hero League
      This kind of perception also extends to the matchmaker, when players ask, “Why am I playing a game in high GM with this low Master’s player?” This usually happens when their MMR has diverged from their rank. As we work towards switching to showing MMR for some or all our leagues, this should remove that negative perception, too.
      Quick Match
      When people are given quick match games which are 5v5 assassins, or games that feel like the balance of the players or heroes is off, this can reduce enjoyment as well, so we are working towards hardening the criteria for team composition to make the mode feel both more enjoyable and more like our other queues.
      Are there any plans to tighten the MMR differences GM players experience in their teams? Currently you can see #1GM players getting matched with 200 points masters/placements and i suspect the difference in MMR is quite big. Also showing MMR would shed a lot of light and transparency on how we are matched. Thanks.
      Currently we observe there are a small percentage of players whose MMR and Rank Points have diverged. As a result, these players end up in matches like the one you described. However, it is important to note that both MMR and Ranked Points are used when determining which players get placed into a game. Because of the divergence previously mentioned, GM players may see a lower ranked master player in their game when, in reality, that player has a higher MMR than his current rank. We are investigating potential solutions for how to reduce this divergence. In regards to displaying MMR to the player, please refer to the following reply that has more details: 
      I play in high diamond / low masters mmr in HL. My queue times are hitting 10+ minutes some nights (usually playing 9pm-12AM EST). The game quality seems worse this season then any other season. Are the matchmaking changes this season being reviewed as an improvement on your end? I'm used to 2-5 minute queue's max in previous seasons.
      First of all, congratulations on your ranking in Hero League! The match quality is something we are actively iterating on. We track numerous parameters for each match and monitor them actively. When comparing some of these parameters against last season across the entire population, we have seen a significant reduction in the difference between the highest and lowest MMR within a game, as well as the difference between the highest and lowest rank within a game. However, we still observe some outliers and it is something we are monitoring. Something to note about playing at the high diamond/low masters level is that for larger game servers the matchmaker now enforces a maximum of a one division spread for Master/GM players. As a result, if you end up with Master players in your game, you should only have Diamond 1's or GM's in the game, but never both. This can result in higher queue times. For smaller game servers, the rules are less aggressive (resulting in a slightly more broad MMR\Rank spread) in order for players to get into games within a reasonable period of time while maintaining the best quality the matchmaker can for the given players in the queue.
      When will we have quick match matchmaking where there will always be a tank and a healer?
      Sometime this fall, coming to a quick match near you:)
      Are you aware of the problems with game mode(TL/UD) populations in minor regions?
      When and how do you plan to fix them?
      Hi camerontenten! Thank you for your questions. You've touched on a few different topics so I'll do my best to try and address each of them. We are currently aware of the challenges that minor regions experience and are investigating ways to create additional incentives for players to participate in these modes that are facing challenges.
      Being able to queue for multiple modes is an interesting idea and compelling. However, there are many challenges that come with that. For example, when a player is eligible for matches in different queues, what happens? Is it a first come first serves? What happens to the other 9 players in a match you choose to not go into? We have a holding mechanic that allows players of higher ratings to place a hold on players they feel they could make a match with in the near future (whoa...psychic). A change like this would have far reaching impacts across numerous game modes and potentially create scenarios where all game modes would have a degraded performance. Don't get me wrong, I love this idea and it has been discussed within the team. However, when we make changes to the matchmaker, we validate our changes across historical data for the the population to understand the impact of the changes. With a change as complex as this we would have to verify that all game modes observed a net positive in terms of quality of games as well as queue times.
      In terms of duo queuing: 
      I agree, the game is very enjoyable with friends and I assure you we are very much invested in trying to improve the experience for our minor region heroes...of the storm:)
      How do you feel about the current state of "solo laners" and how do you feel about the current state of pocket picks like Murky?
      Hey Parrot_on_ROIDS, thanks for the question and love the name ?
      Solo laners create an interesting dynamic that is influenced a lot by the battleground you’re playing on. For the most part, we think this is an interesting role for the team and as these are typically bruiser characters, they fit well into many team compositions providing a second frontline character. In general, we see a decent variety of viable solo laners, but there is a lack of ranged character involvement. This is mostly okay but seeing a wider variety of heroes involved would probably be an improvement and something we can chase on the design and balance side.
      In terms of pocket pick characters, I think these are fine if they’re seen occasionally and in the right situation. We definitely don’t want to see the game become a “Murky meta”, but having the occasional Murky pick is fine. A general rule of thumb here would be that the more a hero forces the other 9 players in a match to drastically change their play, the more cautious we are about that hero being overly common. Murky of the old days typically meant he would split push the entire match, forcing his own team to fight in a lot of 4v5 situations which wasn’t fun for them. On the flip side, the 5-player team also had to babysit against Murky which also wasn’t fun. Assuming Murky is playing a bit more of a ‘standard’ game and participating with his teammates, then I think the situation is more enjoyable for everyone… sorry, bit of a tangent but hopefully still relevant ?
      Can we expect to see dedicated roles in QM soon (tank/healer/dmg per team)
      We are working currently on hardening the rules for roles in Quick Match. We are implementing ways in which we can make sure that people who are picking roles with low demand are more effectively informed that there are roles in demand right now that they could fill.
      Question about matchmaking in master hl. How matchmaking works currently in master? Because i have feelings that before grandmasters are up, it was different. In 2 first weeks of season I was matched with 5-9k players having 3k and then when grandmasters were announced i was started getting 0-1,5k master players having 5k points. And quality of matches were much lower. Does this work on purpose because of lower playerbase in master and harsher requirements for grandmaster players?
      Hi Ynous, thank you for your question. Whenever Master players are considered, the matchmaker will first try to make a game with players from one division, before expanding the search to the adjacent ones. It won’t let Master players be in a game that has more than one division spread (e.g. Diamond 1 and Masters are OK, Diamond 2 and Masters are not OK). This spread will only be allowed if all players to be put into a match have waited in the queue for at least 4 minutes. From matchmaker’s perspective Masters and GMs are considered to be different divisions, so when GMs were formed that player pool became separated from Masters by a wait time barrier in addition to all the other rules. In any case, for both Masters and GMs matchmaker is looking to not only make a fair game but to keep player’s MMRs as close as possible – with allowed MMR spread growing slowly over the first 15 minutes of wait time. Currently, the amount of rank points a player has inside a single division are not taken into account by HL matchmaker, so the games you have described were formed based on the MMR of the players involved. In your case, my guess is you probably were a lower MMR player in the matches before GMs were up, and now you’re probably a higher MMR player in those matches as there are fewer high-MMR players (as in, they are more likely to be in GMs now, which is a separate division).
      Would it be possible to steal the ear-destroying Dota2 ready sound? I get tired of losing 600 points and having to play low-priority. ?
      I’m not sure Valve would be too happy with that, but we are in discussions about a form of ready check. Personally, I would go with Murky’s March of the Murlocs horn or Whitemane’s laugh as a ready sound!
      1. Why is Hero League seeded from Quickmatch, when they are fundamentally different game modes?
      This has led to all kinds of abuse over the years with people purposefully cheesing QM for a higher HL rank, as well as being basically the sole reason for the common complaints of a feeling of inconsistency in the "game knowledge" of teammates at any given rank in HL.
      QM is a fundamentally randomized and unpredictable environment. As such, it gives players a warped sense of what balance is, how to form a team comp, and the meta. What makes that a good seed for HL?
      Is it unreasonable to just make Unranked Draft the only seed? UD is fundamentally much closer to HL in terms of the skillset and game knowledge required for success, so it is an infinitely better predictor of how someone will perform in the HL environment.
      2. What is the current form of decay supposed to accomplish?
      For one, it doesn't kick in until you've finished your placements, so people can just wait and do their 10 matches at the end of the season to avoid decay entirely.
      And two, It's not aggressive enough for how short our seasons are. Playing one extra match every 20 days is nothing when the seasons are only a few months long to begin with.
      One of HL's biggest issues over the years has been that the "bare minimum" of matches you can play to keep your rank is just too low, and this doesn't really solve that problem.
      Thank you for your question. Generally when you begin playing HL in a new season, there are 2 cases. In the first scenario, a player has played HL in previous season, in which case we will use your rating from that season. In the second scenario, the player has not played in the last season. Previously when confronted with the second situation, the game would look at other queues to try and use more recent information to estimate the player’s skill. The order in which we would look at the queues is: TL is seeded from HL, HL is seeded from UD, UD is seeded from QM. We changed the algorithm with the last season roll. Going forward, we will only use another queue’s information to seed a player in new season if they have never played enough HL games in any of the previous seasons to place into a definitive rank, and if they did - we will ignore other queues for seeding purposes. In other words, the issue described in the post you have linked should be resolved.
      Do you plan to make the term of MMR & RANK Decay shorter? The decay standard now seems to be a bit long.
      Hello! We are always looking to iterate on changes we make to Rating and Ranked Decay. We are monitoring the impact Ranked Decay is having on Hero League. The decay timers may be adjusted as a result. However, we won't be making any changes to the decay timers in the middle of a season as we want to ensure all players are aware of such changes before they play their placement matches (which is when the decay timers get initialized).
      Are there any plans to add a an AFK check to the start of drafts like many other MOBAs? Losing a game because one player is AFK and gets randomly assigned a hero that’s bad in the map/team comp is incredibly frustrating and honestly it feels like it could be easily avoidable.
      Hello Ankoria! This suggestion is actually something we have been considering for some time now. You can find an answer to a similar question here: 
      Have You guys considered to cover the AMA online in the future? Like Ion & Josh from WoW?
      Hi, ErothTV! We’ve approached answering questions about Heroes development many different ways over the years – from livestream or video Q&A’s with our team leaders, to reddit, forum, and social media posts by individual team members - and we will continue to try different things moving forward. We’re currently focusing our reddit AMAs on this format where we pick a specific area of the game and bring in the developers who work on that area to answer questions directly. I’ve been enjoying the way these have been going and think the individual developers being involved leads to more in-depth discussion, but please let us know if you have feedback on it or ideas on other ways we can continue improving our communication with the Heroes community. Thanks!!
      The biggest problems that occur with matchmaking seem the be around the "failure mode"s, where the matchmaker fails to find an appropriate match in the required time, and makes a wildly inappropriate match right now. Is there work on the way in degrading that more gracefully?
      Previously, the matchmaker search criteria would degrade gracefully to a cutoff point (for the party/player with the longest wait time), and then make the best match it can at that cutoff point. This would result in sometimes you being pulled into these matches being made at another players cutoff point. That is probably what you were experiencing, and we agree that this wasn't the best experience for the player. As a result we have made some improvements to it this season for Hero League. Each player now has their own search criteria. The players search criteria will degrade gracefully and only when players fit each others search criteria will they be placed together into a game—whereas previously it was based purely on the party/player search criteria who had the longest wait time. However, there is still a maximum cutoff of 15 minutes before the matchmaker makes the best possible match it can. This is currently live in Hero League and we are monitoring the experience.
      1. Replay system is so uncomfortable. Advance of replay system will make Ranked players more skillful. I heard in past interviews that the system is being improved, how long has it been?
      2.And the reconnecting system so! The reconnecting time so boring. ? 
      Hi 6igbear, thank you for your question. We think improving actual gameplay experience is higher priority than upgrading replay system. We have talked about these issues before: 
      Since then, we’ve been doing research in how networking model implementation affects player experience. While some of the improvements stemming from this research are still in progress, we have made a few fixes which are already live. Most recently, with the Whitemane patch, we were able to improve efficiency of how the game is sending user input over the network. This resulted in ~2x-3x reduction of bandwidth consumption, improving gameplay experience for players with challenging network conditions as well as speeding up ‘rejoin in progress’ for cases when network was a limiting factor. A nice by-product of that is that replay files are smaller in size as well.
      With voice comms it feels like the main disadvantage of duo queue has been eliminated. Have you considered adding duo queue back to HL?
      This is something we've discussed internally. We think there is value in ensuring players can play with friends and make new ones in Hero League. There are complications, and many differing opinions, but it's something we're considering for next year.
      Why are new heroes allowed in ranked as soon as they come out? When Alterac Pass was introduced it was delayed from rank for a week or two so people could get used to it. Shouldn't heroes be treated the same?
      Allowing new heroes in day of forces people to misuse bans because they might think someone is OP or they are afraid they're UP and a teammate with instalock them. Theres also people who go straight into ranked and mandate they have to play a hero regardless of skill/team comp. Seems like waiting a little bit is a good fix.
      Hi AlexRain1, There’s two main reasons that we allow new heroes into ranked modes immediately.
      1. It’s actually really critical for our team to collect lots of data and make meaningful balance decisions quickly. We believe that our balance patches that come two weeks following a new hero release provides a really good update cadence for the game. For those balance patches, we are able to use about a week of data from live matches to inform our decisions internally, implement and validate our changes, etc. While we absolutely do look at QM and all data available, being able to utilize data from higher level HL matches is much more meaningful. Even the fact that ranked matches require a player to be level 5 on a character first helps to validate this data further, and of course seeing pick and ban rates, is useful data in itself.
      2. The other angle is from a perspective that new and updated content is the lifeblood of this game. From reworks and significant balance changes, to of course new heroes – these are all opportunities to shake up the meta and create new strategies. The game is constantly evolving, and this can help to even resurface older heroes that may now present new synergies or counters.
      For Alterac Pass specifically, we discussed it quite a bit, but felt that having this new battleground enter ranked modes right at the end of the ranked season wasn’t the best experience. We instead wanted to create an interesting moment where the next ladder season would utilize this battleground for its entirety.
      Why Matchmaking changes are taking forever to be done ? We see new events and skins very often, are you investing more resources to make the game "prettier" instead of better ?
      We do have separate, dedicated teams focusing on each area of the game, so releasing a new Hero or a new skin does not take away attention from matchmaking or other feature work. It's critical that we continue making content while also making the game better - these things are equally important to us, and our team structure reflects that. The sensation that we move faster on content is really speaking to a different thing - content changes are more visible and tangible.
      Matchmaking is an area of game development that is incredibly challenging and perpetually evolving, not just for Heroes of the Storm, but for all games. There is no perfect matchmaking; it's always a series of trade-offs where we're striving to get the highest quality matches for the largest percentage of players in the most reasonable timeframes, all while attempting to balance an ever-increasing number of extremely impactful variables.
      Over the past 5 years, we've invested heavily in the ongoing quest to improve the Heroes matchmaking experience across the game and have made great strides along the way with changes that have been behind the scenes as well as public-facing. We've also developed tools that strengthen our ability to predict and understand the far-reaching implications of the changes that we want to make. Through all of this, we've been able to consistently improve the matchmaking experience for the vast majority of Heroes players. And while we've had setbacks, bugs, and fringe cases negatively impact some players as we've evolved the system, we believe matchmaking is one of the cornerstones of our game and will continue to dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to improving it forevermore. Speaking of which - we're always looking to hire talented Server Engineers to join the Heroes team and help support matchmaking as well as other feature development. Please apply!
      Hi, when can we expect some “balance” changes for Tassadar? He has been dangling at the bottom for months, and he is in a really akward and near unplayable spot. In Quickmatch you get matched against Global healing and splitpushing Slugs 99% of the time (why is this seen as a fair match up?). In draft you get reported for even hovering him, or if you are luckily you are not reported.. but solo supporting. I would love to play some Tassadar without trolling my team or getting split push stomped ❤️ Thanks for your time
      Hi IAreNoMonkey,
      Tassadar is someone the balance team has talked about. He could likely use some balance changes to address some of your concerns, but he may also need a larger update to better position him into a definitive role for the team. We do find that his role as an enabler for specific characters is pretty unique and can have a significant impact when paired with someone like Tracer. Whether he stays in this ‘enabler’ role or shifts to a more pure Assassin or Support is still up for debate.
      As far as matching Tassadar in QM games, we do have some changes to QM coming this fall that will help ensure games have a Tank, Healer & Ranged Assassin. This means you may still run into Tassadar vs. Abathur scenarios, but each team should also have a healer to minimize any disadvantage Tassadar may have in this specific matchup.
    • By Stan
      Twitch drops are back! Blizzard's giving away a Rare Loot Chest to all viewers who watch one of the clashes for a total of three or more hours. They're also randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour and Heroic Account Unlock codes, which unlock every Hero exluding Whitemane on each broadcast day! Don't forget to link your Battle.net & Twitch accounts!
      Blizzard (Source)
      After your outpouring of enthusiasm during the Mid-Season Brawl for the ability to earn loot in Heroes of the Storm by watching HGC, we're bringing it back for the upcoming Western and Eastern Clashes!
      Guaranteed Drops
      All viewers who watch the Western Clash from Aug. 10 through 12 and/or the Eastern Clash from Aug. 16 through 19 on Twitch for a total of three or more hours will receive one Rare Loot Chest in Heroes of the Storm.
      Random Drops
      While the broadcast is live for both events, we’ll be randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour. On top of that, three Heroic Account Unlock codes—which unlock every Hero excluding Whitemane—will be given away on each broadcast day. Tune in for at least one hour of the Western or Eastern Clash competition every day on any of the following channels to be entered to win one of these Heroic Account Unlocks at the end of each day.
      Eligible Channels:
      http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesfr http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesde http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesru http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroeskr Eligible Broadcast Times (PDT):
      Aug. 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 16 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 17 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 17 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 18 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 18 to 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 19 For more details, read the official rules here.
      Link Your Account
      To receive these legendary rewards, you must link your Twitch.tv and Blizzard accounts. Here’s how:
      Log in or create an account on Twitch.tv. Navigate to the Settings menu by clicking your account name in the top-right corner of the home screen. Navigate to the Connections tab of the Settings menu. Find the Battle.net section, then follow the given instructions after selecting a region and clicking Connect. When connecting accounts, be sure that you’re currently logged into the Blizzard account on which you’d like to receive your rewards. Click here to go straight to the Twitch settings page