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Heroes of the Storm Reddit AMA Recap: June 20th

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The Heroes devs answered your questions earlier today on reddit and here's a recap of what they had to say about Hero balance, reworks, and art.

AMA Highlights

  • They are working on AI improvements, but they were not able to do a full rollback when AI behavior became worse, because there were changes to how AI handles things like fighting in lanes, determining objectives etc.
  • They will be updating scripts to make tactical behavior smarter and more reliable -- this includes things like how to take objectives and how to fight.
  • Right now every placed Storm League player has two separate numbers representing their standing in regional ladder: MMR and Rank. In a future update, Rank will be dropped as a separate value and the plan is to directly convert MMR to Rank after each game.  As a result, you will see a bit more volatility in your Rank changes, although the average change will still be somewhere around 200 Rank points. The only source of MMR/Rank discrepancy will be Rank point penalties. After being penalized for deserting a game, one would have to play a certain amount of ranked games legitimately to get those lost points back and bring their Rank in sync with their MMR. This essentially makes the MMR visible as Rank, adjusted down by Rank point penalties (if applicable).
  • The team is overall happy with Mana adjustments from a while ago. They'll continue monitoring outliers.
  • Collision boundaries will be visible to Auriel players soon (Detainment StrikeDetainment Strike).
  • Deth LazorDeth Lazor without taking Hyperfocus CoilsHyperfocus Coils feels cumbersome and if Gazlowe was supposed to receive an update, the ability would definitely get some buffs.
  • Malthael is in a really good spot right now. Both Heroics are viable and he's the third best bruiser in the game right after Ragnaros and Rexxar.
  • Orphea skins are planned for a future patch.
  • Creating the face animations is incredibly taxing for many disciplines within the team, so they decided not to continue continue making dialogue animations for new Heroes.
  • Chen was reworked instead of Tassadar in the latest patch, but the team is still working on adjustments for the High Templar and will release when the time's right.
  • Self-healing will be considered Healing in stats soon.
  • No reworks are planned for Samuro at this time.
  • Statistically, Rexxar is the strongest Hero (57.9% win rate) sitting at about 3% higher than most others. Genji has the lowest win rate right now (43.8%).
  • The devs unveiled more information about the upcoming seasonal questline: Every season, there will be a simple questline, requiring you to win a certain amount of Storm League games. Only players who have completed the questline will be eligible for the end of season rewards.
  • Loss Forgiveness won't be available next season.
  • Storm League won't have forced Solo queue matchmaking.
  • Reckless Strike (Alarak's long-removed level 4 talent) had a bad pick rate and lowered the Hero's skill ceiling so they removed it as part of his rework.
  • They would like to eventually improve the "Looking for Player" in-game tool  to display preferred game modes, but have no timeframe for that.
  • The team has been internally playing around with significant changes to Whitemane's talent tree.
  • The thing with Ragnaros and some other Heroes is this concept of cost. It takes about as much time as it would take us to do 2 or 3 skins to do 1 Ragnaros skin. So they have to weigh in a lot of these things when considering who is or isn't getting a skin.

You can find all questions answered by the devs below.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Is it safe to expect a hero release schedule of 3/4 per year?

Hi, /u/TurbanatorGD! We're not going to commit to a set number of heroes a year as we need to leave some room for us to pursue the things the team is most excited to bring to the game, but I will say that we have some great new heroes in development and we're looking forward to bringing them to you when they're ready!

It's been half a year since the AI bot heroes script was replaced with a version that can't grab objectives and makes other obvious failures. Why hasn't it been reverted to the prior version?

Hi Senshado!

Some background here -- when the script was changed, we also made code changes to how AI handles things like determining how to fight in lane, determining threat at an objective, and other things like that. This makes it harder than we would like to just roll back the script.

Even so, we have been doing targeted rollbacks of parts of the scripts to help get the AI in a better spot.

We currently measure AI effectiveness in a number of ways, but our stats put them at about a 22% winrate before the changes you are referring to.

After the Ana/Abathur rework patch, they dropped to about 18%

With the targeted rollbacks, we are back to about 20.5-21%, though some of their behavior is still not where we would like it to be.

AI is my favorite thing, so be assured that I am working as hard as I can (between providing support for all the cool heroes and reworks we have coming up!) to get them back to a good place.

Our plans:

- In the immediate future we have some backend changes in test with our designers now that should help address some of the issues we have with how our agents select what to do, our plan is to get these to the community as soon as we can.

- We will also be addressing the scripts to make their tactical behavior smarter and more reliable -- this includes things like how to take objectives and how to fight.

- After that there are a number of other smaller scale problems we should be able to tackle... things like how they handle objectives, some pathfinding problems, individual tactical issues (Chen drinks too much!), etc...

Thanks for the question!

Clarification on what "Visible Direct MMR To Rank-Point Mapping" means? (I realize that this question does not fall under Hero Rework, Balance and Art)

Right now every placed Storm League player have two separate numbers representing their standing in regional ladder: MMR and Rank (League tier, Division and Rank points). Ideally, they should be in sync with each other: this is why we have Personal Rank Adjustment rubber-banding Rank to MMR value, and that’s why everyone is re-seeded every season based on their MMR. Strictly speaking though, they change independently: there’s a baseline 200 points change per win or loss, plus-minus adjustments. MMR change is a bit more flexible, and depends on your team, your opponents, etc. That’s why people might end up with their MMR being significantly different from their expected Rank.

The plan is, we drop Rank as a separate value, and directly convert MMR to Rank after each game. That means, average-skilled player would be, let’s say, around mid-Gold. Each time you win or lose, your MMR goes up or down, and the Rank change is strictly bound to the MMR change. As a result, you will see a bit more volatility in your Rank changes, although the average change will still be somewhere around 200 Rank points. The only source of MMR/Rank discrepancy will be Rank point penalties. After being penalized for deserting a game, one would have to play a certain amount of ranked games legitimately to get those lost points back and bring their Rank in sync with their MMR. This essentially makes the MMR visible as Rank, adjusted down by Rank point penalties (if applicable).

We're close to summer and with Brawls always being ARAMs we're not going to have the fantastic Pull Party. Have you considered offering both ARAM and a quirky Brawl together?

Hey there mirithil!

I love me some Pull Party and am personally starting a petition to create a ranked experience out of it ?

As for bringing it back or simultaneously running them alongside ARAMs, it has been talked about but requires some pretty substantial feature work to get everything stood up.

Overall, we have seen incredible engagement around the ARAM map pool and are currently focusing on ways to make that experience even better!

Exactly 2 months ago ago you adjusted the mana cost of a lot of heroes (mostly nerf). How do you think of the mana adjustment? Do you have any metrics to track the effect, whether they're underdone or overdone?

Also, there are several high-mana-cost heroes that were untouched then, such as Tyrael and Valla, do you have any plans for them?

Hey DKWings!

The mana adjustment went over very well, as it accomplished the simple task that we wanted, which was to make mana costs have more parity between heroes. This was more of a mathematical endeavor, so there aren't really any super secret complex metrics that we are looking for to track how well it went over outside of drastically changing any hero's win rate or pick rate, which it doesn't seem to have done. Going forward we'll be monitoring any outliers that we find when doing balance patches or that the community brings up and will check to see how they stack up to the rest of the pack and make changes as needed.

To answer your question about Tyrael and Valla, while they are towards the upper end of the spectrum in regards to Mana tension, they definitely aren't out of bounds. We don't have any immediate plans to lower their costs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they changed at some point down the road (though if/when they do change it would likely be fairly minor).

Given that Detainment Strike has an important direct interaction with terrain, would you please consider making collision boundaries visible to Auriel players?

Yes, I'll do that right now! It's been on the list.

Overwatch heroes are a unique case in HotS in that they each bring their own predefined abilities to the game. Unlike Diablo protagonists, whose abilities are chosen from a large pool of possible builds, or Warcraft/Starcraft heroes who may have a few of the moves they use in their respective game and a few thematic but non-canon ones, OW heroes basically just import their kits directly into HotS (minus talents and second ultimates, of course). But with Overwatch reworking some of it’s own heroes, abilities like D.Va’s and Hanzo’s are no longer fully reflective of their playstyle in their game of origin. Are there plans in the long-term to rework these heroes and put their abilities in line with their OW counterparts?

...also, can D.Va get the ability to ping her Self-Destruct charge? please I’m begging you

It's important to us to have Heroes in HotS reflect their inspiration for their character, but they don't need to be 1 to 1 copies of their most current iteration. This is true when we first make them, and also if they've changed in their original game after we've added them to our roster.

We also recognize that what may work in one game genre may not work in another. While a fantasy and a kit reminiscent of their inspiration are very important, fun gameplay is always first on the list. Sometimes that means we need to diverge slightly from the existing source material. This is true at a Hero's creation, and also with their continued existence in the Nexus.

That being said, we do follow everything that's happening to our Heroes in their original games, and if we see something that's really cool we use it as inspiration for new Talents, changes to Abilities, or sometimes complete reworks if the Hero needs it.

Reworked Chen brought a renewed Storm, Earth, Fire where his earth spirit can slow enemy, which can be empowered to rooting enemy heroes. However, root is not always an upgrade to slow, considering there are some buffs that are specific to slows, such as [[Combat Advantage]].

The fact that root or stun are not considered a strict super set of slow seems unintuitive, and also goes against the fact that most effects that affects slow are describe as "Slowed, Rooted, or Stunned". Can you explain the reasoning behind this design, and whether you'll continue pushing this further?

Hey DKWings!

We intentionally have specific interactions between CC effects and talents that interact with them for balance and design reasons. While I understand the reasoning that a Root could just be a 100% Slow, it does have different properties and the effects have different key words due to how they specifically interact with other parts of the game (for example, Rooted Heroes cannot use Mobility abilities, whereas a Hero who is Slowed by 100% can). We often have specific benefits so that heroes have intended synergies in their own talent trees and so that they pair well with other heroes that we have in mind at the time of design. While it would feel fantastic to say that everything works with everything, it would also greatly limit our design space and make interactions harder to balance, which would over time make those abilities feel more bland.

As an example, if Kel’thuzad’s Hungering Cold talent at 16 benefitted from hitting all CC’d targets instead of only Rooted targets, then its damage would have to be much less, and it would lose its unique synergies with Blighted Frost, Frost Blast, and we would lose the thought process that players would normally go through when evaluating the talent of which other Heroes have common or long-duration Roots to combo the talent with. While the talent could easily be stronger overall, the goal isn’t always to make things stronger and more commonly useful. That’s easy to do, as we can just make everything easy to hit and trigger with no qualifications. However, the larger design goal is to make compelling choices, which is largely defined by what a hero can’t do, even though that may not be as exciting as looking at it from the perspective of what they can do.

To answer your question about Chen’s Storm, Earth, Fire, you’re right that a Root isn’t always an upgrade to a Slow, however the vast majority of the time it is, and in the cases where it’s not the player has the choice of whether or not they want the ability to be a Root or a Slow, so we’re happy with that interaction!

When you release a new hero, they have many unique voice lines specific to HOTS that we hadn't heard before. With many of these iconic characters, do you always end up getting the original voice actor for them? What do you do if you can't? Do you just not make the hero based on that alone?

Hey BigFatDumbBaby! We do our best to get the original voice actor when it’s possible/reasonable to do so, but we do have to take into the account the actors’ availability, actor requirements, etc. When we do have to find someone new, our wonderful Blizzard sound department helps us to find the best actor to fit the role. Their team does a ton of work across multiple titles and handles a lot of the recording process for VO, so they have a ton of expertise in finding the right fit for each character and making sure they match as closely as possible to the previous versions. I hope that answers your question, BigFatDumbBaby!

Gazlowe suffers from the same problem as Azmodan did before the rework. If you do not talent into Hyperfocus Coils at lvl 7, Deth Lazor does not feel good to use. Anytime in the future you are going to make it baseline?

Hi, Overpowerr!

Thanks for the question. I agree, I also find Deth Lazor without Hyperfocus cumbersome to use. If we were to take another look at Gazlowe, improving Deth Lazor usability would be a high priority. Are there other aspects of his kit that you feel could use some improvements? Also, how would you feel if we made him into a Bruiser?

How do you think of the support role? It has the fewest members and one of them is soon to leave (if tass is really getting reworked into a mage)? It also has the nichest position in the current meta.

Hello again DKWings,

This is an interesting question and something that the design team has talked about quite a bit. We have a few special Heroes that really don't fit into the normal Tank/Damage/Healer meta. While we could technically try to force them into it (Vikings become a Melee Assassin), it doesn't quite feel right and honestly may confuse or mislead newer players.

While we don't currently have an elegant solve, I can tell you that we are thinking about it and may make some changes to the role in the future.

One of my mains is Tyrael. In many fights my teammates don‘t see (or see it too late) Sanctification. If we look at Anduins Holy Word: Salvation, the visual effects are massive! Could you think about Tyraels ult to make it seen better?

Hello palpatin0,

We are always trying to ride the razor's edge of how 'loud' abilities are. While we try our best to make sure Heroics are recognizable by both teams, we have to be careful about creating an arms-race that ends up making team fights so chaotic that players can't understand what is happening.

It is a constant battle ?

What is biggest overall gameplay problem bothering your right now? What is something fundamental you want to fix?

Hello Phoenixed,

We are always trying to improve the game in the most meaningful ways possible. As for right this moment - the design team is focusing on finding ways to better educate the player base, make the solo-lane matchup more fun, and create more meaningful back-and-forth counter-play moments for Heroes that feel frustrating to play against.

Are there any forseeable Malthael changes coming?

The changes to Tormented Souls gave him some mobility but damage was his problem because outside of the solo lane he is barely scary, especially with Tormented Souls.

Hey Peekoh!

Malthael, despite popular opinion, is an incredibly powerful hero that is doing well in pretty much every regard. As of this last patch and in recent history of patches before, he has consistently been one of the most powerful heroes in the game who also has good talent diversity. As of Anduin’s patch, he has a 53.1% win rate and is the 3rd best Bruiser in the game, behind Ragnaros and Rexxar. He also has great Hero damage in his games compared to other heroes, despite popular opinion that he only exists to clear lanes. Simply put, he wins games and has for a very long time.

In regards to his talent pick rates, they are also far and away better than most heroes in the game. Many of his tiers have relatively great pick and win rates and he has fewer outliers than most other heroes. I’ll be the first to admit that we wish his Heroic parity was better, which we’ve taken steps to address, but even then there at the highest level of play where people are the most strict about their choices, Last Rites is picked 78.7% of the time compared to Tormented Souls at 21.3%, which, while not ideal, isn’t that bad compared to many other heroes in the game. Also, Tormented Souls has a .4% higher win rate, so they are basically equal in regards to effectiveness.

That Malthael is weak and Tormented Souls doesn’t compete is largely a perception issue at this point, and while it would be great to go in and re-design them again, there are other heroes who need the help more, so I wouldn’t expect any sweeping design changes in the near future.

That being said, he still has some talent issues and like any other hero in the game we will make tweaks as necessary.

We've had a single contest that ended up bringing Janitor Leoric into game a couple of years later. How was that experience? Would you like to repeat it or do something similar? HotS have a very passionate community, in a level I've never seen in any game!

The experience was awesome! It's always nice to see people react to something that they feel they had a part in. We enjoy engaging with you guys especially at a creative level. We have been open to doing another "Janitor Leoric" in the past and that hasn't changed. There are a lot of awesome concepts that I see our community put out. Please rally behind the ones you like. If there's a large backing behind a specific skin it will make it easier for us to make the decision to make that community driven skin.

Art-wise - Orphea's animations are above and beyond the animations on most heroes if not all heroes currently in the game (in my opinion at least, thanks Lana. I still love everyone else's work as well), but is there anything you are allowed to talk about that you are particularly hyped for in the future? Or anything like the Mecha storm video from last year even.

[I understand it is hard to say anything with spoilers]

Wow, /u/DeadWishTV -- THANK YOU! This truly means so much to me to read.

My excitement lately, has actually be waiting for all this Mecha stuff to drop! I got to do an awesome new ready-up for sweet Yrel, a massive behind-the-scenes tune up to Valla, and some awesome mecha combat stuff for both of them. PLUS -- Brittney Gleiter did the siiiiiiiiiickest ready-up animation on Valla that gets me amped every time I see it in queue.

When it comes to the future, I am certainly not able to talk about it... but know this: I am hyped.

Art-wise - What got you into the video game industry, the defining moment of "Oh that's awesome, I want to do that," or did it kind of just happen? Was it hard/scary to get into the industry before it grew so rapidly or did you get into it knowing it would be a steady job?

I have always had an interest in video games. When I was growing up there was little information on how to get into making them. So mostly I worked on my 2D skills. I got into making 3D art and animation in college. After I graduated my connections at the college got me introduced to a local game company making military simulations. Luckily they gave me a shot.

I didn't experience fear getting into the industry. Most people are super friendly. They're all nerds who probably like the same things you like. Generally it's very welcoming. The hard part is leveling up your skills so that you can be among these fantastic people. There is a percentage of available jobs for the amount of people Art Colleges are pumping out. So the biggest take away there is to be critical of yourself and don't live in the "Mom says I'm really good at art" bubble. Of course she says you're awesome she's your mom. Use forums like Polycount or Artstation to get feedback and level up and of course talking to industry professionals is always a good way to move up. Be objective. As Samwise Didier always says. "Remember your ABCs. Always be Creating."

For me, I definitely had a moment. Well.. a few, probably... BUCKLE UP, BABYYYY..

I've always loved video games, but we weren't allowed to own consoles growing up ... which only made me more enamored with them. They weren't forbidden, but they were so special when I had the opportunity to play them that it really resonated with me. (My parents like to joke, now, that they 'knew' the reverse psychology of not having them around would eventually drive me into my successful career.)

Jak and Daxter was the first game that stuck in my head as far as the effort that actually went on behind the scenes - it was the first time that I remember thinking 'wow, that was a cool animation!' (and I maintain, to this day, that the Jak trilogy has the world's most perfect double-jump.) That said, the real 'moment' that I can think of happened to me in highschool.

I made my first animation when I was 15 years old. It was a flipbook, and it was real trite, but I loved everything about making it. Something about animation just clicked with me! From there I signed up for a full animation class, and then another, and then another.

By my senior year I was coming into school two hours early to animate in the lab, I was working in the lab through lunch, and I was babysitting my teacher's kids so I could stick around for a few more hours after school was out - but even then, I thought animation was just a weird hobby I had. It wasn't until my teacher brought me aside, talked to me about my favorite movies and video games, and said "Lana. People get paid to make those."

When it comes to it being hard or scary... I guess I never really felt that way. I was challenged, certainly, but when I was being challenged I knew I was growing. Because it was something I wanted so bad for so long I just knew, to the core of me, that it would work out one way or another, so I never felt afraid. Plus, as Brew mentioned, the industry is an amazing place. We are all professionals working hard to be better at our craft, but at the end of the day, we're making games! This community is about developing fun, so it is filled with joy and silliness and it radiates with with energy that reflects that.

/NOVEL

What are you doing to make the solo lane engaging and reward pushing again? 

This is a great question and has been a vibrant concern of high-level play for awhile now. We agree that the current meta of the solo-lane can end up feeling a bit stale and are actively testing some design changes in order to help spice it up.

We have not solidified anything yet as we want to make sure that whatever change(s) we make, create a better game for everyone. We are definitely listening to the community though and are even testing one of your ideas - replacing the Wizard minions with a lone Sapper so that pushing a wave into a town will deal substantial damage.

We want to keep evolving the game in meaningful ways and the solo-lane matchup is definitely on our minds ?

What's up with Abathur's new Galactic Xenotech skin? When I bought it last week, it was an awesome looking gold skin.Now it's been auto-converted to a bronze-black-orange thing. Why the change? It seemed like it was already done and functional, and we saw a year and a half ago that the skin variant was already done. Is there a way to get it back or something? A (partial?) refund? Seems kind of messed up to do a switcheroo, especially for those of us who spent a bunch of currency to buy it.

We dug into this and it turns out this was a series of unintended events. First, that unreleased gold Abathur skin snuck into the build last year. Then, before the patch when live this week, the behind-the-scenes product update for the patch created a brief window where the gold skin was purchasable, and a handful of players bought it. When the patch went live, the Galactic Xenotech skin that was supposed to release with that patch overwrote the old temp gold product.

We're looking into refunding the currency spent for anyone who purchased the gold skin during that time window where it was available, and we're discussing releasing the final version of the gold skin to an upcoming patch so those of you who have been looking forward to it can get your hands on it.

Sorry about the switcherooing - definitely not what we were going for. Thanks to everyone who called this out!

Could you fix Anduin's facial animations in draft? He is the only human hero who uses protoss psionics to talk. His mouth doesn't move.

Hey! Really great question and happy you brought it up. TL;DR - the dev team has decided not to continue making dialogue animations for new heroes.

Creating the face animations is incredibly taxing for many disciplines within the team -- most notably, it takes up precious tech art resources, and an incredible amount of animation time without actually giving us a result worthy of the time spent.

Speaking strictly from an animation standpoint, it takes weeks to get through even just a portion of the dialogue a player routinely sees (in portraits, store, and hero select). Even within that animation, only a portion of it is polished, while the rest remains procedurally generated. And even THEN, that's just for English! Heroes is localized into 12 languages for game dialogue, so there is a massive subset of the Heroes playerbase that doesn't get that level of attention at all! (And that's just one piece of the pie!)

It's pretty easy to get tunnel vision, but we really do take our core values seriously. Thinking globally, it would take many, many more animators many, many weeks to go through the hundreds and HUNDREDS of lines to do it properly... so instead I get to focus my skills on making more badass art for you guys to enjoy. Personally, I think it's worthwhile trade.

PS: HUGE shout-out to our incredible localization team for all the amazing work they do. Too long have they been unsung, but they are a huge part about why we are able to share the game as widely as we do, and how we're able to have such a wonderful community!

I thought Tassadar was coming this patch. Don't worry, I can wait. But is there a timeline and/or any teases for Tassadar's rework? I can't wait to burst enemies down with a mage Tassadar. ?

Hey there DKWings,

Chen bullied out Tassadar for this release, but fear not the High Templar will have his time. The release date for him has changed a few times, as we keep designing cool things for the rework and art is scrambling to help support all of it. While we are calling this a rework, it really is much more than that.

While I can't give an exact timeframe - I can say that it will be well worth the wait!

A question for Oscar: can you please tell us a little bit about the artitstic challenges and the different ideas during the design process for the realm lords?

HI! YEAH i can! So these were actually first created by Samwise Didier, some of the realm lords were even concepted before the game's launch (like Blackheart) and some others later on. I'd actually say the only design I changed radically, was the Raven Lord. Sam's original concept had him be a lot older, which looked great! But felt a bit off for Orphea's age, so I did a pass to make him younger. But the rest are pretty much just Sam's concepts that I've either drawn in my style or very lightly tweaked!

Can self shields be considered as "healing" in stats? same as self-healing? (Zarya , Artanis come to mind). And in general, many heroes don't have that stat counted for their healing.

Hi, fycalichking. Thanks for the great suggestion! I will certainly look into this.

Does Blizzard plan to ever address Samuro's core design problems and toxic playstyle?

These are the problems for those who may not know:

  • He's entirely dependent on a level 10 heroic to be able to function as a hero (Illusion Master), this both makes him extemely unfun and restrictive before level 10 while killing his viability in that tier and any subsequent tiers that buff said ability (level 20), on par with the other choice being extremely subpar at both level 10 and 20.
  • Said level 10 heroic is broken beyond belief, it takes what is arguably the most useless base hero in the game and turns him into a broken PvE machine that needs to be kept extemely underpowered at PvP, otherwise he breaks the game, as a result Samuro is extremely unrewarding and unfun to play optimally
  • His talent design is honestly horrible and filled with overlapping talents and generic upgrades, i would say he's one of the very few heroes that actually needs a complete talent revamp.

Hey Blackstar_9!

Thanks for taking the time to write Samuro feedback. While we do not always respond, I wanted you to know that I have read your feedback and have read a lot of the Samuro community’s feedback on the hero.

I am also a very avid Samuro player and have been playing him both internally and at a GM level on Ranked for quite some time. You can even ask the other designers, I basically have a ban on not being allowed to play Samuro because of how much they hate fighting against mine ?

I totally get where you’re coming from about Illusion Master being a frustrating playstyle that currently defines the hero. To give a little history about how we got to where we are, when Samuro first came out Bladestorm was the way to play and Illusion Master was a niche pick. With his last rework we wanted to keep and improve on the Illusion Master playstyle because Samuro’s fantasy was about switching places and being tricky with his clones, so we made part of it baseline and made his kit more about that aspect of the Hero.

Today, however, you are correct that Illusion Master defines a lot of what Samuro wants to do, and that it’s not particularly fun to play against. While I disagree about the severity of the commonly held belief that he only wants to split push and that his team-fighting is non-existant, I do agree that his balance of power is too much in that direction.

Sadly I don’t see a rework for him coming anytime soon. We simply have other priorities right now, and Samuro received a rework relatively recently whereas other Heroes who deserve one haven’t had one for a much longer time (ex. Tassadar).

That being said, I am totally open to simple suggestions to solve his core issues, and am willing to review them as potential balance patch changes. Please feel free to post suggestions for him below, and I’ll look them over and see what we can do.

Edit: One limitation that I'd like for you to consider when giving feedback is that I don't think we can get away with the common suggestion of making Illusion Master baseline. The first reason is that it would hugely increase the skill floor of the hero and make him almost impossibly difficult to approach for players who want to try him out since mastering Illusion Master would be required to play Samuro. The second reason is that we would need to create a new Heroic for him, and creating Heroics requires a whole lot of time and effort that would take away from other important places like new heroes or other important reworks.

Balance side - Who do you feel is/are the strongest heroes according to your stats, weakest heroes, as well as the most underrated (hidden OP) heroes. Stats wise and/or personal opinion wise.

Purely statistically, Rexxar is the strongest Hero in the last month. He's about 3% higher than most others, putting him in a tier of his own at 57.9%. He's played less often, but it's still a significant amount of games. We've always seen him high on the list, which is partially due to him being a niche Hero that's often picked on favorable Battlegrounds. However, when looking at overall Hero win rate information we typically filter out anyone that's below roster level 10 in a Hero to remove learning curve from the equation (so the "only experts play Rexxar" has less impact here, though still somewhat applies).

The pack is pretty close after that to be honest, there's a very gradual curve of winrates after Rexxar right now.

On the bottom end, Genji is the lowest winrate Hero at 43.8%. He's still a strong pick in the right situation, but we've found that when he's too strong he pushes out too many other Heroes and limits the metagame. And to be fair, I don't think many people are upset when a Genji is on their team due to his power level. My personal opinion is that a large part of his lower winrate is because doesn't fulfill a lot of the checkboxes that make poorly drafted team comps work in unorganzied play: wave clear, sustained damage, global presence, CC, or self-sustain.

I don't know that I have a personal sleeper OP Hero, but I do know that some of our less standard Heroes get a bad rap. Murky and Probius for example are actually doing fine in terms of their winrates, but teams often tilt when allies select them due to not understanding how (or sometimes wanting) to play alongside them. Sometimes they're wacky and do weird things, but that doesn't mean it isn't effective or viable. We're still happy to have them as niche picks since playing every game with a wacky Hero gets old pretty quick though.

Fun fact: Diablo and Garrosh are in the bottom 7 in terms of winrate, even though they're some of the highest banned Heroes. At Platinum and above, Diablo is the second most banned (41% of the time), and Garrosh is the 5th most banned (22% of the time).

Bonus fun fact: Kael'thas has one of the wildest divergences of ban rates depending on league. He's at an astronomical 55% ban rate in Gold and below, drops to 31% in Platinum and Diamond, and is only banned 3% of the time in Master. The fear of not spreading out from living bomb is real at lower levels of play, even though his winrate is only slightly different (53% in Gold and below, 51% in Platinum and above).

Unconventional Heroes like Abathur, Murky and the Vikings are what initially drew me into the game, but I remember reading somewhere that another Abathur-like Hero would not be made. Is it because these oddball Heroes are hard to balance? Can we expect to see more of them?

I wouldn't say that we will never make another unconventional Hero (we love them!). However, these kinds of Heroes do take a lot of extra massaging in order to feel both fun/fair to play with and against.

Balancing them will always be a bit tricky, but that honestly takes a backseat to the problem I just listed. We have to be very careful with Heroes that tend to warp the game around them, as nine other people in the game will be affected.

Question for animation team: do you rely on motion capture tools to have a beginning or do you start from scratch?

We do not rely on motion capture tools! Everything is keyed by hand.

They are powerful and awesome and doing great things for many games, but they are particularly good for getting realistic character sets with like....THOUSANDS of animations on a single character.

Our characters have a lot of animations, certainly, but we cap-out around 120, I think -- and with the nature of our pulled-out-top-down camera, we get more out of hand-keyed, really exaggerated motion than we would out of robust, nuanced mocap.

You said that next ranked season will have something called seasonal questline. What is it?

Every season, there will be a simple questline, requiring you to win a certain amount of Storm League games. Only players who have completed the questline will be eligible for the end of season rewards.

Will loss forgiveness be implemented with changes stated in the blog when the season starts as well?

The Loss Forgiveness is something we’ve been planning for a while, and made some progress with. It won’t, unfortunately, be available next season, but that’s definitely something we want to have up and running as soon as possible, along with some other safety nets against AFKers and leavers in Ranked play.

As for the MechaStorm II skins, can we show the head of the pilot instead of the mecha on the lower left corner? Just like Fenix and D.Va.

Those mecha pilots are teeeeeeny tiny -- that means their textures are also teeny tiny. If we were to blow them up to fill out the size of the portrait window, they unfortunately wouldn't be able to support with the right amount of fidelity. It's a cute idea, but in the end, cost of the work required to create two additional models just for the portrait window would have taken a lot of time away from devs doing more impactful things.

Plus, for me, I'd rather see my badass mech!

When you introduced Storm league, you said it will include an option to have a forced solo queue matchmaking, where you are put versus other people that solo queued, and the points you earn will count towards the same total as if you queued with other players. I think it's important to have this type of "Hero League'' play, as matches feel not balanced when you face a premade group and you are a random solo team. We should have an option to queue solo, why did the team give up on that?

Adding strict “Solo queue” option would essentially take us back to the pre-Storm League days, matchmaking-wise. That means separating the single ranked player pool into two, and we already know that this ends up in unleasonably longer wait times for the less populated pool of solo-queuers. One compromise solution could be making the queue population separation dynamic, so that people could be automatically moved from solo-preferred pool to more populated party-queuers pool, should they spend too much time in queue. That will increase the matchmaker complexity significantly, and might not be as beneficial as one could expect. Still, we’d love to give players more flexibility around their queuing and matching preferences, so we’re trying new things and running simulations on how to make it happen without sacrificing too much of matchmaking quality and wait times expectation.

As an exclusive vs AI player, I'm always amazed to see how fast the queues are and how rarely I see the same players, as well as how generally chill they've been. Is there a significant portion of the playerbase that actively plays this mode, and does it ever get any consideration when working on the AI's behavior? Thank you for all of your work!

Thanks for the question! Aren't insta queues great? VS AI is near and dear to me because I also find it relaxing! Who's your go to hero for VS AI?

On the subject of the AI system, it is and has been one of our top priorities. In fact, I am currently working closely with our engineering team to make sure that the VS AI experience is improved. Although we don't have anything specific to share, we're actively testing improvements that we hope to get out to the public as soon as possible. Stay tuned!

Are there heroes that, after visually designing them, you've thought: "We shouldn't have done it like that." because your ultimate design choices made the character more difficult to manage in terms of fine tuning their animations, creating new skins, themed abilities, mount interactions, et cetera?

Reply #1

Thanks for the question. Game development is a very iterative process. When we begin working on something new, we start with an idea. That idea evolves and changes over time as people playtest and give feedback. Sometimes this goes smoothly, sometimes we hit hiccups and have to change our initial design or ideas. Because game development is a team sport, it means that any change made will have a cascading effect on any people or departments that need to do work after them. If design changes an ability from a missile to an aoe, the animation needs to change, then the FX have to be update, the sound might have to be altered, the ability will need to be retested etc. etc.

At the end of the day, we only have so much time to work on assets. Sometimes in order to complete assets on time we have to commit to doing something that might make future updates more difficult. A great example of this is Ragnaros. He is a very FX heavy character that we all want to see with new skins (No really, we do!). But the time involved in doing it properly means we have to adjust our schedules accordingly.

TLDR: Yeah, we are always learning how to create content and assets better and faster.

Reply #2

Dehaka, actually! Not from how he turned out, he is my sweet baby boy, but how we approached creating him.

When we modeled him, we have him standing very, very upright -- to match the version of Dehaka you'd see in Heart of the Swarm. However, as soon as we started playing around with his model in game, there was fear that he was pushing into Diablo's visual territory. Trev asked me to do some exploration on the posing to really differentiate the silhouette. It worked out really well because the hunched-over dino look made him feel more like the feral zerg that he is, and we all fell in love with the move set.

Unfortunately, the team didn't have the time or structure in place to go back and reassess the model with the new posing. As such, you can see on screens like the Store or QM Hero Select, the textures on the underside of Dehaka's neck are, to this day, suuuuuper stretched out...because I, ahem, kind of broke him. There isn't enough geometry there to truly support that pose on the base and master skins, but the silhouette differences were important enough that we shipped him like this anyway!

Now it's something we are aware of, so we compensate for the new posing going forward, but it was an oversight that kind of bit us a bit, in the end.

Now I am coming up with a probably extremely niche question about Alarak, but I feel like it should be a relevant one nevertheless and I will try to explain why. Alarak is and even more so back then was my most played hero and I play him quite successfully, and there is one issue that keeps nagging on me since a long time.

In 2017 you significantly reworked Alarak. One change that never got much attention was the removal of his old level 4 talent "Reckless Strike". What the talent did was reducing the delay of his Q ability to 0.25 seconds, making it nearly instant, at the drawback of becoming vulnerable for a short duration after hitting your Q, gaining -25 armor (the other drawback being the opportunity cost of missing out on the Double Cross talent that you decided to make baseline with the rework instead).

Now Reckless Strike was not a popular talent at all, and most people didn't consider it a useful talent, but I myself really liked that talent, had success with it and I think it also always had the higher winrate on hotslogs than Double Cross. Not only did Reckless Strike enable Alarak to counter very mobile heroes with escape abilities like Tracer, Genji, Tassadar much easier, it also generally enabled a very fluid playstyle that was very cool and made Alarak more flexible, because it also made your Q much easier to hit without pushing people with Telekinesis towards you for the standard combo, allowing you to use your Telekinesis a bit more freely instead, for example to just push yourself towards opponents and still be reliably able to hit your Q afterwards or use Telekinesis to peel or enable allied combos more often (an idea you seem to like, because you recently gave Alarak a new level 1 talent that reduces the Telekinesis cooldown so we can use Telekinesis more freely).

On the other hand the drawback made it so you had to be smart with your Q timing so that it does not bite you in the back, but could be also again mitigated by Alaraks Counter-Strike ultimate ability, both negating the risk and maybe even punishing the opponent by baiting out a counter-attack on Alarak just to again counter it with your own Counter-Strike ?

So maybe I could make a convincing argument for this talent and end it with the question: Could you imagine bringing back this talent or functionality in some kind of fashion to Alarak again at some point? ?

There were two reasons why we got rid of Reckless Strike on Alarak. The first was, as you pointed out, it was very hard to get people to want to pick the talent. It had a pretty abysmal pick and win rate compared to other talents on the tier. I believe we could have buffed the talent with tuning to get people to pick it, but I don’t believe we could have done it in a healthy way for Alarak or the game.

The second reason why we got rid of the talent was that it was a skill-lowering talent that made Alarak significantly easier to play (which is why it had the Armor reduction drawback). As a general philosophy, we try to steer away from talents that lower the skill of a hero too much (Li-Ming’s Ess of Johan also fell into this category). The primary reason why is that tuning these kinds of talents usually becomes incredibly difficult over time, as they flip between being too strong and too weak very quickly, and tuning them properly usually results in creating weird gameplay that eventually becomes unhealthy for the hero.

To give you an example with Reckless Strike, let’s do an exercise where we want to “solve” the talent with just tuning.

Let’s say the talent is currently too strong and we need to nerf it. The negative Armor cap is -25 Armor so we can’t make it even lower without creating a special exception which we’re not going to do (if we did it would open up a huge can of worms that we’d rather stay away from), so we’re stuck with nerfing the delay bonus that Alarak gets on his Q, or increasing the window of his vulnerability. The bonus is already very small, so changing it from .25 seconds to .2 or .15 seconds has a very low chance of changing people’s perception on the talent, and it makes the talent feel worse to pick since that’s the cool bonus that it’s giving. Let’s say that we try that and unsurprisingly it doesn’t work. Now we have a less fun talent that’s still too strong. After that we’re stuck with increasing the Armor reduction window, which we could do and it might work, but now you have this weird talent that tells you to use Discord Strike more often because it’s more accurate, but players will constantly be scared to use the ability because the window where it can backfire and kill themselves is so high. There’s also a duration threshold where the talent likely hugely backfires if the Armor reduction duration is longer than Discord Strike’s Silence duration, since the target can turn around and blow up Alarak after being Silenced.

If the talent is too weak, which was the case, then we can reduce the delay of Discord Strike even further, but that takes away even more from the heart of the ability at a base level and makes the talent even more transformative. Discord Strike has always been intended to be a hard-hitting ability that is very punishing when Alarak hits an enemy Hero with it. This could result in us needing to balance/nerf base Discord Strike due to its interactions with this talent, which could hurt the hero overall and further pidgeon-hole players into having to pick Reckless Strike to be effective. We could also reduce the Armor debuff and window of time that Alarak is hit with which would likely get some traction, but there would absolutely be a cutoff point where the curse of taking the talent is no longer meaningful, and people immediately flock to the talent and tout that it’s the only way to play Alarak because he can’t reliably land his Discord Strike without it, which would likely result in the playerbase clamoring for us to just make the reduced delay baseline since Alarak “can’t be played” without it.

A lot of these are hypothetical scenarios and don’t even cover all the potential cases, but they have absolutely played out on other heroes, and rather than try to manage the headache on a talent that wasn’t popular and had a low chance of being successful, we decided to cut it in favor of talents like Chaos Reigns, which we felt were much more reliably fun and powerful.

There were absolutely some cool things about the talent, but I believe it was the right call to remove it in favor of what Alarak currently has.

I wanted to thank you guys for the current Mecha event. I really like the idea of involving a little bit of story to it and I hope we will see a bit more of that for the upcoming events. I don't expect you guys to put a ton of story in them but having a little bit to read certainly feels good to me.

Why does the new Valla Skin cost 2,4k shards and the Yrel one 1,8k? Is it because the Valla model was a bit more difficult to make or did you add "better" VFX effects to it? I don't mind the price difference but I am curious to why.

And I do have a wish for the next events; could we please see all the quest rewards while selecting the quest/quest chain? Currently if you pick for example the body armor quest line, we don't get to see the portait we are able to earn.

When it comes to skin pricing there's a lot of factors that go into it. Hopefully it's not a case of "better VFX" as we try to put the best quality into everything we make. But certainly some skins are chosen to receive more visual updates than others. In this case the Mecha Valla skin has significantly more asset changes compared to the Mecha Yrel Skin. Including an updated model, animations, FX and sounds. Those new wings on Yrel are pretty sweet though!

Any plans on improving the "looking for other player" feature? Right now it's only possbile to look for other players, but it would be nice if i could look for other players and let them now what mode i want to play (ranked, vs AI, QM, brawl).

Sounds like a very good idea. Heroes is a very cooperative-focused game; having more tools to build better parties is something we’d love to focus on. No promises right now though.

Do you have any plans for Whitemane? I personally feel she is in a pretty good spot, maybe on the weaker side, but she tends to rely on her W talent at 4 a lot. Just curious if she is being looked at. I think she is easily the most fun support to play in the game right now and I love managing her mana.

Maybe if she got some healing baseline from her abilities without zeal she would spend less mana and benefit her aggressive playstyle.

Whitemane's core design was built around having players manage her Mana consumption. When you look at her talent tree (specifically her level 4 talents), they each offer ways for people to 'cheat' this design. This makes it fairly difficult to balance, as whichever talent allows her to cheat the most ends up dictating her build path.

We have been playing around with some significant changes to her talent tree internally and I would expect that you guys will get your hands on them sooner or later ?

Art-wise - I have heard Blizzard primarily uses 3Ds Max/Zbrush for their games, is this true for HotS? and what would you suggest the best way of getting into the HotS art team would be?

(Yes I know you can use any program and it is more about the concepts of proper mesh flow/polygon managment/workflow/ ECT, but knowing what programs you all use for animation/concept design/3d modeling/rigging you all use?)

(Also yes I know you shouldn't focus on getting into any one specific company/specific game because you will learn great things everywhere, but still best sugestions would be apreciated)

We use 3Ds Max as well as Maya. For High poly models we use mostly Zbrush. I prefer using Modo for low poly polygon and hard surface modeling and UVs. Getting comfortable with the big two (3DsMax and Maya) is a good place to be. Mainly you're looking for a program that makes the most sense to you. Focus on creating a good result.

Once you do that the concepts that you use modeling will transfer between software later. Every studio is going to have proprietary tools as well which you won't be able to prepare for but that's expected. These programs are just tools. Learn keyboard shortcuts to speed up workflow. A lot of tools have similar shortcuts in multiple programs. If they don't you can change them to something that makes sense to you. I like to keep my most used hotkeys closer to my left hand as my right hand is usually on my Cintiq.

What we look for in a candidate is someone who can produce a good result as well as someone who meshes well with the team. Interfacing with people is important and if you're hard to work with you're probably not going to get the job. Hope this helps!

How many people usually work on hero reworks? I want to be a game designer one day, and I'm curious on how the process of creating a new hero (or altering an existing one) works, could you give me some input on that?

The rework process actually happens pretty organically. A single designer will normally take 'point' on a rework. They start by creating a list of goals for the rework, and then paper-designing changes to help achieve them.

Once they are happy with the changes, they will send this 'pitch' out to the rest of the design team, at which point they all jump in to share individual feedback, suggestions, and concerns. The design owner will then address all of it and send out a second version. This process will repeat indefinitely until the team, as a whole, is happy with moving forward.

At this point, the owner will begin implementing the changes. Once in, we begin playtesting (normally unearthing a bunch of fun bugs) the changes. After a session of testing, we will always find a few things that looked great/fun/exciting on paper but did not pan out to be as good in action. We will address these issues and begin work on 'iteration 2' of the rework. Again this process gets repeated as many times as necessary - and often differs from designer to designer (for instance, I am known to start pretty extreme and go through a lot of iterations before finding the right magic, while some of the other designers favor a more subtle approach and can find it much quicker).

Once we are happy with the design, we will list out any art/fx/ui/sound needs and hand it off to the rest of the team. When all of this is costed out, we align to a good release date and use the remaining time to really hammer-down on balance testing in our playtests.

I am sure I have missed a few things, but I hope this gives a bit of insight into our rework scheduling! I will leave you with one last fun piece of information: at this exact moment we are currently working on eight different reworks, all of them differing in size and scope ?

How much is the average time for each team (concept, mechanic, programming, design, movement, sound...) to finish a hero? How do you manage to sync while working on multiple heroes at the same time?

Time for each team varies pretty drastically based on which hero we’re working on. Some heroes might be super heavy on FX (Ragnaros) or animation, while others are simple on the art side but require some complex engineering or design work (Deckard) to make them happen. When we start a new hero we get together with all the teams involved and estimate the difficulty for each one, and sort out our timelines from there. We have frequent meetings and daily status syncs to make sure everyone’s on the right track with everything. Producers like myself make sure everyone’s on schedule with things so the other developers can focus on getting their tasks done!

Is there any intention of giving Ragnaros a new skin?

There is a lot of intention! There's so much intention. The thing with Ragnaros and some other heroes is this concept of cost. It takes about as much time as it would take us to do 2 or 3 skins to do 1 Ragnaros skin. So we have to weigh in a lot of these things when considering who is or isn't getting a skin. In a perfect world, everyone would get skins all the time!

Regarding the upcoming changes to Storm League and finally implementing things that the community had asked for a long time, Why now? Why not during 2.0? Why not when PBMMR failed? Why are these changes ok now but not before? What has changed?

Hello Fabbubot,

Nothing has honestly changed - we have always been listening to the community and worked towards bringing the most meaningful changes possible to the ranked play experience. As for everything coming with the inaugural Storm League season, we honestly just felt like this was the right time.

A huge thanks to our features-team that have been working extremely hard to make all this happen!

I think right now some heroes are not really smooth in their gameplay. Let me explain, i think a hero like Mephisto is really clunky. I think i know why, you feared he will destroy everything. But now, i think he should has improvements like Artanis had previously about his combo. The fact you can't control the return on the shadow like a wormhole is really frustrating and low the skill of the hero.

I have this feeling for Mephisto, DVA, Xul, Butcher, Hammer (the rework has made her monobuild and mono gameplay). Do you have plans about reworks ou just changes for them ?

We do have some changes planned for a couple of the Heroes you mentioned but I wanted to mention that sometimes that 'clunky' feeling you have when playing a Hero was intentionally created by the designer. While the design team often wants to make a Hero feel as good as possible, sometimes the 'design pillars' of the Hero are in direct conflict with doing so. For example, we have actually playtested a version of Mephisto where he had control of his shade return and we ended up not shipping it. A lot of the time, predictability in Hero abilities is extremely important and makes playing against them feel more fair.

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Thanks for the summary. Sucks that there was not that much useful information in the full text though.

Looks like ranked changes can be ignored due to this change being only cosmetic? Even if not, I highly doubt this can provide for any actual change in match quality and climbing on old accounts, smurfing will always be much faster and more efficient.

 
 
 
5 hours ago, Stan said:

Malthael is in a really good spot right now. Both Heroics are viable and he's the third best bruiser in the game right after Ragnaros and Rexxar.

Depends on what "spot" they are referring to, if they mean a solo with ok sustain and mobility to stay in lane and occasionally take camps, he sure is. Other than that he is very much worthless on objectives and in team fights. His pushing potential is also limited to fast minions clearing since his aa damage is very low. Jesus Christ, the whole part on Malthael is pure gold in terms of laughs, so, Tormented Souls being completely useless compared to Last Rites is a "perception issue" 😄, and this .4% win rate thing... 

I wonder why they've addressed the very niche Alarak talent question but not the situation of him being overpowered by the point of actually being a broken hero. All his current talent choices are 100% effective and playable, I don't think there is another hero with such great talents in HotS right now. And he clearly gets too much compensation to balance out his "downside" which, I think, is more skillcap than actually the need to snowball and dying penalties. He clearly has too much utility, mobility, silence, self-sustain, tons of damage, good defensive options, great auto-attack animation, etc.

 

Other than that, it really looks like completely new guys are now working on HotS now, as it seemed by a couple of last patches (backward changes and really unbalanced and buggy special event questline). Again, they are too much reliant on statistics and win rates, which, combined with disregarding "games played", always leads to inaccuracies. But I guess I should be happy HotS is still somewhat alive, 

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Too much of "we're working on it/thinking about it" type of answers. If we are going to see some of these changes go live, it's likely going to be a 6 months wait. It's safe to assume we can expect hero release schedule similar to Overwatch, 3 per year (or 4 at max).

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On 6/21/2019 at 2:59 PM, Kuarinofu said:

Depends on what "spot" they are referring to, if they mean a solo with ok sustain and mobility to stay in lane and occasionally take camps, he sure is. Other than that he is very much worthless on objectives and in team fights. His pushing potential is also limited to fast minions clearing since his aa damage is very low. Jesus Christ, the whole part on Malthael is pure gold in terms of laughs, so, Tormented Souls being completely useless compared to Last Rites is a "perception issue" 😄, and this .4% win rate thing... 

Malthael can still be very dangerous in the right team composition. And he is a beast in the endgame under the effects of Nano InfusionNano Infusion.

I still think they should buff Tormented SoulsTormented Souls a bit more, maybe passively increasing the damage of Reaper's MarkReaper's Mark or something.

On 6/21/2019 at 3:30 PM, SleepySheepy said:

Auriel rework possibility!

Auriel is one of my mains, and I think she is perfectly fine the way she is. I don't think there is anything worth tampering with. Maybe except making Reservoir of HopeReservoir of Hope baseline for Ray of HeavenRay of Heaven and nerfing it considerably.

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Malthael could use a tweak to Tormented Souls at least as following: Wraith strike is refreshed on cast and every 4s. Its lvl 20 upgrade could also be made to have synergy with the recent change: While Tormented souls is active, kills refresh wraith strike. I suggest these for balance and also because I want to see a Wraith strike build.

 

Other changes should be added to Orphea as it is very hard to see where she is aiming and where her waltz will land, the animation is confusing on this part as she is seen as a 2d hero than 3d(from my perspective).

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On 6/24/2019 at 7:14 PM, Valhalen said:

Auriel is one of my mains, and I think she is perfectly fine the way she is. I don't think there is anything worth tampering with. Maybe except making Reservoir of HopeReservoir of Hope baseline for Ray of HeavenRay of Heaven and nerfing it considerably.

I wouldn't mind seeing something like this happen.

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/heroes/t/idea-for-auriel-rework/22184

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20 hours ago, SleepySheepy said:

I wouldn't mind seeing something like this happen.

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/heroes/t/idea-for-auriel-rework/22184

Or you could make Resurrect into Mass Resurrect and strap a 120s cooldown on it.

I have also noticed a trend in reworks: the heroes are changed and buffed then nerfed again to the same level of power they were before or even lower(Butcher, Rexxar). Lets see what happens with Chen . 

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6 minutes ago, XeaKon said:

I have also noticed a trend in reworks: the heroes are changed and buffed then nerfed again to the same level of power they were before or even lower(Butcher, Rexxar). Lets see what happens with Chen . 

This is also a trend with new Heroes. They often come out slightly overtuned, so Blizzard can balance them later.

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The reworks I mentioned could (or more like buffs to Rexxar) were supposed to give some quality of life imporvements(the meat stacks and now removed abatoir) while giving the a moderate buff.

Rexxar now takes camps much slower(easy prey should work on Misha,Charge! only on mercs now to retain the pre-buff power ) and Butcher received a nerfs to his healing, attack power, armour. He(Butch)  can reach max stacks almost as fast as he did before his changes.

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      Tyrael
      Talents
      Level 1 Salvation [W] Shield amount bonus increased from 25% to 40%. Level 4 Divine Vigor [E] Healing increased from 60% to 75%. Level 7 Purge Evil [E] Attack damage bonus increased from 55% to 60%. Level 13 Law and Order [Passive] Smite damage bonus increased from 25% to 35%. Return to Top
      Support
      The Lost Vikings
      Talents
      Level 1 Olaf the Stout [Passive] Additional functionality: Increase Olaf’s Health by 20%. Spy Games [Passive] Additional functionality: After leaving Stealth, Erik gains 75% Basic Attack damage for 6 seconds. Viking Bribery [E] No longer causes camps to respawn 50% faster. Level 7 Baleog the Fierce [Passive] New functionality: Increase Baleog’s attack range by 2.5. While near Olaf and Erik, he becomes inspired by the power of teamwork and his Attack Speed is increased by 50%. Spin To Win! [Q] Damage reduced from 101 to 85. Additional functionality: Deals double damage against enemy Heroes. Norse Force! [Q] Cooldown reduced from 30 to 15 seconds. Level 10 Longboat Raid! [R1] Health increased from 685 to 750. Health bonus per Viking increased from 171 to 185. Play Again! [R2] Cooldown increased from 80 to 100 seconds. Level 13 Nordic Attack Squad [W] Changed from a [W] to a passive talent. New functionality: While Olaf, Baleog, and Erik are near each of the other Vikings, their Basic Attacks deal bonus damage equal to 1.25% maximum Health to enemy Heroes. Return to Top
      Healer
      Lt. Morales
      Talents
      Level 4 Trauma Trigger [Passive] Cooldown reduced from 30 to 20 seconds. Level 7 Physical Therapy [W] Cooldown reduction increased from 2 to 3 seconds. Medi-Drone [W] Healing increased from 50% to 75%. Level 16 First Responder [Q] Energy requirement for bonus healing reduced from 70 to 60. Return to Top
      Rehgar
      Talents
      Level 20 Farseer's Blessing [R1] New functionality: After 1.5 seconds, Ancestral Healing is cast a second time on the same target. Allies near the target are healed for 590. Return to Top
      Tyrande
      Talents
      Level 1 Ranger [W] Moved from level 4. No longer has an activated ability to make the next Sentinel pierce all Heroes hit. New functionality: Sentinel pierces the first enemy Hero hit. Lunar Blaze [E] Moved from level 4. Trueshot Aura [Active] Moved from level 4. Level 4 Everlasting Light [Q] Moved from level 1. Bonus Healing increased from 60% to 80%. Mark of Mending [Trait] Moved from level 1. Elune's Chosen [Active] Moved from level 1. Level 7 Huntress' Fury [Trait] Adjusted functionality: Basic Attacks only splash to nearby enemy Heroes. Basic Attacks that splash from Huntress’ Fury also give cooldown reduction to Light of Elune. Level 16 Darnassian Archery [Passive] Duration reduced from 6 to 4 seconds. No longer loses its bonus when attacking non-Heroes. Return to Top
      Uther
      Talents
      Level 20 Bulwark of Light [R1] Adjusted functionality: Divine Shield is also applied to all nearby Heroes near its initial target and lasts 1 second longer. Divine Protection [Trait] Armor amount increased from 40 to 50. Return to Top
      Whitemane
      Talents
      Level 1 Righteous Flame [E] New functionality: Increase the damage of Searing Lash by 25%. If the second strike of Searing Lash hits an enemy Hero, the bonus damage is increased to 50% and grants Whitemane 25% increased Attack Speed for 4 seconds. Level 7 Saintly Greatstaff [E] Moved from Level 13. Level 13 Scarlet Wrath [Trait] Moved from Level 7. Additional functionality: Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes reduce Zeal’s cooldown by 1 second. Level 16 Radiance [Q] Additional functionality: If Zeal is cast while Whitemane has 3 stacks of Desperation, then instead of reducing Whitemane’s Armor it instead increases her Armor by 10. Return to Top
      Melee Assassin
      Qhira
      Base
      Health increased from 1950 to 2000. Health regeneration increased from 4.06 to 4.17. Talents
      Level 1 Fatal Wounds [W] Bonus damage to enemy Heroes below 50% Health reduced from 40% to 30%. Finishing Touch [Passive] Basic Attack damage bonus increased from 15% to 20%. Basic Attack damage bonus to enemy Heroes below 50% Health increased from 15% to 20%. Level 4 Ensnaring Swing [E] Primary target Slow increased from 30% to 40%. Level 10 Unrelenting Strikes [R1] Cooldown reduced from 75 to 60 seconds. Mana cost reduced from 60 to 50. Final Stun duration increased from 1 to 1.5 seconds. Level 16 Swing Life Away [E] Cooldown reduction increased from 150% to 200%. Spell Armor duration increased from 2 to 2.5 seconds. Level 20 Silent Killer [R1] No longer Silences enemy Heroes on its initial cast. Additional functionality: Enemy Heroes who are hit by Unrelenting Strikes are Silenced for .5 seconds. Return to Top
      Zeratul
      Talents
      Level 20 Gift of the Xel’Naga [R2] Removed. Nexus Blades [Passive] Removed. New talent: Unwavering Pressure [W] Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes who are marked or Slowed by Singularity Spike reduce the cooldown of Singularity Spike by 1.25 seconds. New talent: Shadow Stride [Passive] Reduce the cooldown of Vorpal Blade by 10 seconds. Return to Top
      Ranged Assassin
      Cassia
      Base
      Vitals Health increased from 1510 to 1700. Health regeneration increased from 3.15 to 3.54 per second. Weapon Damage from 122 to 130. Attacks per second from 1 to 1.11. Lightning Fury [Q] Damage from 150 to 165. Mana cost from 25 to 20. Avoidance [Trait] Now works while Mounted. Adjusted functionality: After remaining stationary for .75 seconds the Armor is rapidly lost over .5 seconds. Talents
      Level 1 Thunderstroke [Q] No longer grants Avoidance Armor. Quest damage per Hero hit from 1 to 1.5. Level 7 Debilitating Thrusts [E] Name changed to Grounding Rod. New functionality: Enemies hit by Lightning Fury or Fend are Slowed by 20% for 2 seconds. Level 16 Martial Law [Passive] Adjusted functionality: Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes deal 1% maximum Health as damage. This is increased to 3% maximum Health against Heroes who are Stunned, Rooted, or Slowed. Return to Top
      Genji
      Base
      Health increased from 1620 to 1675. Health regeneration increased from 3.38 to 3.49. Cyber Agility [Trait] Cooldown increased from 15 to 20 seconds. Talents
      Level 1 Agile Dismount [Trait] Cooldown reduction increased from 10 to 14 seconds. Level 7 Augmented Guard [W] Shield amount increased from 75% to 100% of damage blocked. Cyber Shield [Trait] Spell Armor duration increased from 2.5 to 4 seconds. Level 10 X-Strike [R2] Cooldown reduced from 80 to 60 seconds. Mana cost reduced from 90 to 70. Level 13 Double Jump [Trait] Removed. New talent: Way Of The Shimada [Passive] Increase Genji’s Basic Attack range by 1. Each time Genji hits an enemy Hero with a Basic Attack, increase his Basic Attack damage by 1% for 3 seconds, stacking up to 15%. Level 20 Living Weapon [R2] Cooldown reduction reduced from 12 to 10 seconds. Return to Top
      Gul'dan
      Base
      Fel Flame [Q] Damage increased from 200 to 210. Talents
      Level 7 Curse of Exhaustion [W] Slow reduced from 50% to 40%. No longer requires enemies to be afflicted by Corruption for the bonuses to take effect. Level 13 Dark Bargain [Passive] Additional respawn time reduced from 15 to 10 seconds. Return to Top
      Hanzo
      Talents
      Level 10 Dragonstrike [R1] Damage increased from 78 to 84. Level 13 Mounted Archery [Passive] Additional functionality: Reduce the cooldown of Summon Mount by 2 seconds. Level 16 Flawless Technique [Passive] Storm Bow and Basic Attack damage bonuses increased from 30% to 40%. Return to Top
      Raynor
      Talents
      Level 1 Exterminator [Passive] Bonus damage to Minions, Mercenaries, and Monsters reduced from 75% to 50%. Return to Top
      Tracer
      Base
      Reload [Trait] Healing from Basic Attacks reduced from 15% to 10%. Talents
      Level 13 Untouchable [Q] No longer increases Tracer’s Blink range. New functionality: After using Blink, Tracer’s Movement Speed is increased by 20% for 2 seconds. Telefrag [E] Cooldown reduction on Recall increased from .1875 to .25 seconds. Return to Top
      Zagara
      Talents
      Level 16 Jagged Barbs [Trait] Attack range bonus increased from 10% to 20%. Return to Top
      Bug Fixes
      General
      Watching replays from previous versions of the game will no longer crash the client. Heroes
      Chromie Every talent that is affected by Sand Blast correctly references 'Primary Sand Blast' or references Sand Blasts 'from Chromie or her Echoes' that matches its functionality. Deathwing Updated a tooltip for Bellowing Roar's Fear to correctly state its duration as 1.5 seconds. Garrosh Helping Hand and Into the Fray no longer can be cast on Turrets placed by themselves or allies. Kael'thas Both Fel Infusion and Sunfire Enchantment now properly increase Kael'thas' healing from Fel Infusion. Mal'ganis Spreading Plague's duration is now set to 5 seconds when Mal'ganis basic attacks an enemy Hero, which is its full duration. Orphea Shadow Waltz now refunds mana cost equal to its cast. Ragnaros Sulfuras Smash now has the same cooldown and effect when Ragnaros casts it during Molten Core. Tracer Bullet Spray's range now increases 30%, and a tooltip description has been updated to match it as well. Heavy Handed's armor debuff is now properly applied after Melee damage. Battlegrounds
      Dragon Shire The Dragon Knight's Savage no longer interrupts missile movers of targets that are Unstoppable, but continues to properly interrupt missile movers of targets that are not Unstoppable. Hanamura Temple The Sentinel's Warning Splat for Horizontal Slash properly matches its searches. Return to Top
      The latest patch brings changes for the Call for Help Nexus Anomaly and several Heroes.
    • By Stan
      The Heroes Design team is looking for feedback on the latest Nexus Anomaly, the current thinking is to keep the Core changes permanently because they add unique flavor and cool moments to games, and this post focuses on the more controversial changes that have gone live for Structures, mainly Tower aggro.
      Main Highlights
      The team initially decided to pull out all of the Tower aggro changes in preparation for the next Anomaly, as they didn't think they were right for the game. Once they removed the system, they started receiving feedback from across the team that this was the wrong decision, and that Tower aggro changes made the game feel better. Left undecided, the Design team is currently looking for feedback, because they need to make a call soon, but they are not 100% sure what to do now. Would you like the Tower aggro changes permanently added to the game?
      (Source)
      Hello fellow Heroes!
      The Heroes Design team has been hard at work on our next seasonal content, including deciding what to do with the Call for Help Nexus Anomaly. We’re looking for feedback, and we wanted to take the time to give you some heavy insight into our thoughts, so strap yourselves in, this is going to be a doozy!
      Firstly, we have already decided that we like what the changes to the Kings Core have brought to our game, and we want to keep those. We believe they give our maps a unique flavor and they add some cool moments to games. This article will be focused solely on the more controversial changes that were made to Towers, Forts, and Keeps in regards to how they interact with enemy Heroes. We think a good place to start is with what our goals were when we changed the Tower Aggro system.
      We had two major goals with the system:
      We wanted players to feel like their Towers were “smart” about how they tried to protect members of their team. We have heard lots of feedback over the years that it’s frustrating that Towers will prioritize a nearby minion while an allied Hero is being attacked, and that this felt unintuitive, resulting in players being upset with their own structures for not helping them out.
      We wanted to create more interesting back and forth gameplay between Heroes in both Tower diving and town defense situations. Before this change, the defending team’s counter-play was to try to cast AoE abilities on enemy Minions so that they would die, effectively enabling their Towers to target the diving Heroes and protect them.
      We want to also point out that while the first point may not seem like much, it is a fairly big deal, and was the initial primary motivator for changing Tower aggro. It’s important when playing games that they “feel” right, and when they don’t it can be a big deterrent to player enjoyment. It’s why we spend a lot of time and effort on high quality visual effects, sound effects, models, animations, and creating counter-play through proper design. It’s all related, and we believe that games become great works of art when things feel like they’re all working together in a cohesive and awesome way.
      Where We Are
      Let’s talk about how we feel about where things currently stand. We had recently made the decision to pull out all of the Tower aggro changes, and our recent playtests have had them removed in preparation for the next Anomaly. The team didn’t feel that it was a clear enough win due to some design concerns which we will discuss later, and due to how controversial the changes have been overall. We’re committed to only keeping Anomalies that we truly believe are better for the game as a whole, and since we were also incredibly torn on this issue, we had decided to remove it.
      Then something interesting happened. Once we had removed the system, we started getting feedback from across the team that this was the wrong decision, and that the Tower aggro changes, although they had some issues, made the game, overall, feel much better. We ourselves also noticed that the games just felt better with the system on, which caused us to go back and ask ourselves: “are we making the right decision by taking this away?”
      After lots of debate, we’re still torn on the how we want to proceed. We need to make a call soon, so we’re asking for some feedback from you to help us decide. In the next and final section of this post, we’re going to outline what we like about the current system, what we don’t like, and some proposed changes to improve the system if we decide to keep it.
      What We Like
      We believe we succeeded in Towers feeling smarter as a defending player. They “feel” like they’re doing what they should be
      We believe we’ve created cool, high-tension moments when enemy Heroes dive under a Tower. We also like how attackers have some ability to manipulate who gets the Tower aggro to make intelligent, coordinated plays. We believe this can be even better with improvements in the future
      The combination on our end of being able to manipulate Tower damage and the stacking Armor debuff gives us a lot of room to manipulate exactly how we want these interactions to feel going forward, and gives us good tuning knobs to decide how much defensive power is from the Tower itself or from the nearby enemy Heroes who are there to defend it
      Issues With The Current System
      We believe Towers are currently too punishing to consistently create the cool, high-tension moments we described above. They currently hit too hard to make those moments happen as often or as long as we’d like them to
      Many players don’t like how much they have to change their behavior when near enemy Towers, particularly the ones near the Gates, mainly due to splash damage inadvertently causing Towers to attack them
      A lot of the map is now more dangerous than before, making it less possible to fight enemy Heroes, particularly in the early game. This exacerbates issues we already have with our desire to make the laning phase of the game more interesting
      When too powerful (which we believe it currently is), it disincentivizes players from pushing with their map objectives, which can make those moments feel less awesome
      Some players just like the way things have been for years, and don’t want such a large change to a fundamental aspect of the game. While not a commanding reason to never make changes, it is something we always try to keep in mind, and why we think the bar needs to be high in order to keep these kinds of fundamental changes to game systems
      Now that we’ve covered where we’re at, here are some potential ideas that we have been debating to help make things better if we decide to keep the changes. We could end up doing none of these or all of them, and we’re open to other ideas from you!
      Change all structures to prioritize Map Objectives before anything else Pros
      It would fix players not wanting to push with Map Objectives Cons
      It adds another rule that can be unintuitive for the defending players since they will not always be defended by their Towers, only most of the time, which can be confusing and goes against the primary goal of Towers “feeling” smart in how they work
      Towers don’t defend their teammates in the moments of the game when they need them most
      Change Tower aggro so that the front Towers prioritize Minions, but the Forts, Keeps, and Kings Core prioritize Heroes who attack other Heroes Pros
      The early game would better reward aggression and pushing, and less of the map would be as dangerous as it currently is with the new system Players could attack gates without feeling like their splash damage could get them into trouble Cons
      It adds complexity to the game with two different Aggro rules depending on the Structure
      Lower the damage that Structures do to Heroes Pros
      Towers won’t be as directly threatening themselves, which mitigates the issue of them being too punishing in the early game Players will have more time to be aggressive with Tower diving and less immediately punished when Towers initially start to shoot them It puts the onus of properly defending towns more on the defending team, which incentivizes interaction between heroes Cons
      It makes Towers weaker, which could result in Tower diving being too prevalent.
      These are our thoughts on the current Anomaly. Thanks again for taking the time to read through our ideas. We’re now looking for feedback on how you feel about the current system, whether or not you would like to go back to the old system and why, or other ideas on how to improve the current one. We want to make a choice in the near future about what to do, so please be a Hero and give us your feedback – it will greatly help us in our tireless pursuit of constantly improving this game that we all love playing together.
    • By Stan
      While there are no plans to bring back Haunted Mines at this time, reddit user RockNerd33 did a drum cover of the original Haunted Mines soundrack for everyone to enjoy.
      For illustration, here's the original Haunted Mines Soundtrack if you haven't heard it yet.
      (Source)
    • By Oxygen
      Our twenty-ninth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier list for the month of December is here!
      The latest meta tier list for December 2019 is here!
      Welcome to another Icy Veins's Meta Tier List for the December 3 patch. The goal of this list is to try and detail game's current metagame state. The prime goal of such lists is to inform players regarding popular and trending team composition drafting strategies (i.e. the drafting metagame).
      Using the list
       
      Current ranked mode map rotation
       
      Current anomaly
      Experience Globes. For more information about this Anomaly, simply refer to our Anomaly guide.
       
      Meta picks
      Tank Bruiser Fighter Stalker Marksman Mage Support Healer — Deathwing (new) (ban) — — — — — —  
      High-tier generalists
      Tank Bruiser Fighter Stalker Marksman Mage Support Healer E.T.C. (ban) — Alarak (ban) Zeratul — Jaina Abathur (ban) Ana↓ (ban) Diablo (ban)   Qhira      Kael'thas (ban)   Anduin (ban) Garrosh (ban)         Sylvanas   Uther↑ (ban) Johanna (ban)                
      Mid-tier generalists
      Tank Bruiser Fighter Stalker Marksman Mage Support Healer Anub'arak↓ Artanis Kerrigan Tracer Cassia Azmodan  Medivh Alexstrasza Arthas Chen↓ Maiev   Falstad Chromie Zarya Auriel Blaze Dehaka Malthael   Fenix Gul'dan   Brightwing↓ Mal'Ganis Imperius↓ Ragnaros   Greymane Junkrat    Deckard↓ Muradin Sonya Thrall   Hanzo Kel'Thuzad   Kharazim Stitches Yrel Varian   Lunara Li-Ming   Li Li Varian   Varian   Raynor Mephisto   Lt. Morales         Tychus Nazeebo   Lúcio         Valla Orphea   Malfurion         Zul'jin Zagara   Rehgar                 Stukov               Tyrande               Whitemane↑  
      Low-tier generalists
      Tank Bruiser Fighter Stalker Marksman Mage Support Healer — D.Va Gazlowe Genji↓ Sgt.Hammer↓ Probius — —     Murky Valeera             The Butcher            
      Situational picks (map, team composition, or counterpick)
      Tank Bruiser Fighter Stalker Marksman Mage Support Healer Cho'gall Leoric Illidan Nova — Cho'gall Tassadar — Tyrael Rexxar Xul Samuro     The Lost Vikings    
      Meta heroes define the metagame. They are very often banned or picked right away, as they generally dictate the pace of most drafts and matches.
      Generalists form the core of your team and are generally picked after Meta picks have been distributed. They tend to work on most maps, and as part of and against most team compositions. Since this group includes most heroes, I elected to split it into three tiers. High-tier rankings are a result of performance (i.e. win rates) and popularity (i.e. pick and ban rates). This means that heroes with high win rates can be set in low tier; the opposite may also be true.
      Situational picks shine on specific maps or as part of specific team compositions.
       
    • By Stan
      Blizzard released two new skins for Cassia and Tracer yesterday, but that did not stop community members from submitting their own skin concepts that are very well worth checking out! Here's Messenger Kharazim and Hades Ragnaros.

      Messenger Kharazim by Yasemin Baran (Source)

      Hades Ragnaros by Evangelos Callow (Source)
      Latest Heroes of the Storm News
      Heroes of the Storm Balance Patch: May 6th Mythic Pantheon Skins Now Live
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