by Falcon (with help by shiva)
How have patches affected the gameplay of Starcraft? Have they made the game more interesting, and forced people to diversify in their use of units, or did they just make the game totally imbalanced towards a race?
Soon after the release of 1.05 for SC/BW many people cried imbalance over the changes to carriers.
Armor was increased from 1-4, Interceptor HPs from 20/30 to 40/40, interceptor damage from 5-6, Carrier Interceptor capacity upgrade from 200/200 to 100/100, and the carrier HPs/shields increased.
For many this would be obvious imbalance looking at their massive power. In the Battle.net forums there were many discussions about the issue, but most of the intelligent people figured that just words wouldn't help them, and sought out ways to counter the carriers. In some aspects this brought out other aspects of Starcraft that people previously ignored. In vanilla SC (1.00), "shooting" Reaver drops, massed Hydras, massed Hydras, and more massed Hydras and such were features. Things such as Spider mines, and nuking were almost unheard of due to their lack of usefulness.
Over the last 5 patches to SC, and the introduction of BW, people have been forced to use the previously less known techniques, like the use of spider mines to counter Dark Templars.
The upgrading of the Carrier's power is just another example of this. People were forced to come up with tactics to counter mass Carriers.
For Terran, Goliaths were upped to +4 damage per upgrade and given the charon booster upgrade, which increased their missile range by 3 matrixes. Wraiths now did 20 damage. Lockdown is now a word most people understand. Conventional techniques still work, such as EMP to remove the Carriers shields, plus Corsair/Arbeitor energy if they happen to be escorted. Battlecruisers could and can still also hold their own vs. Carriers.
Remember the Medic optic flare? Well, an observer that can't see is as useless as none at all. If you don't want to risk your Wraiths to destroy the Observers, then blind them. The Carrier AI will most likely target Missile Turrets/Goliaths, etc before your medics, giving them free access to get close enough to cast the spell.
Protoss have equal units, as well as psi storm and heavy damage units such as Scouts and Dragoons to take down Carriers.
Zerg were forced to make use of plague and ensnare. Scourges would have been good if it weren't for corsairs which, in groups of 5+ could easily take down a fleet of Scourges. This is where the Devourers/Mutas come in, distract their Carriers, and enter the scourges from a different direction. Ensnare should also be able to slow them down enough to reduce their effectiveness and let a few through. Hydras in DS also work if Protoss haven't ground melee troops in abundance.
After a while on B.Net forums, whenever the issue of the Carrier's power came up, a lot of people got flamed since 1- "mass carriers only come in BGH", 2- there are counters.
But, you don't have to be playing BGH to get a decent Carrier fleet in a game with a couple of expansions, and the conventional "cannon in, tech to Carriers" is not the only case where you'd see mass carriers. Counters-
If you think of the micro required to selectively lockdown a Carrier fleet, scan the fleet and use your Wraith fleet to take out each Observer, get those #*+@(&* Goliaths to target the carriers and not the interceptors, compared to the Protoss player selecting the Carriers and click "attack" and selecting any area on the map, it would show that there is some imbalance in that.
In any case, the trick is to destroy their support (Arbeitors, Observers) with one group, and hit them with another group. If you force in all your troops as soon as you see the carriers, it's unlikely that you will be able to micro enough to selectively cast spells onto the enemy units in time before your army gets decimated. Get a small amount of troops to initially engage the fleet, and bring in from another angle your Ghosts to lockdown, Defilers to plague, Templars to psi storm, etc. In that weakened state, and without their support the Carriers should just become fish in a barrel. The mastery and effective use of seemingly minor aspects is what differentiates an average player to a great player.
Whether it changed the balance of the game slightly from the Zerg players advantage to the Protoss is irrelevant. Statistics show that games can still be won with any race vs. any other race. But if it weren't for the changes to the game and in this case, carriers, Starcraft would be a much duller game as people would not be forced to explore all aspects of it, including all the different units and the best way to utilize them. Spider mines would be unheard of, lockdown poorly utilised, as well as Zerg not being able to progress away from massing Mutas/Hydras throughout the game.
Thanks for the input from shiva
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