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15 Nov 2015
My goal is to help you understand what will happen when the new scaling changes that Blizzard is introducing will go live, tomorrow, 17 November 2015. It will be up to the player base to decide whether the new changes will be a good thing, hopefully after a reasonable amount of testing. In fact, some players who play casually may barely notice and just wonder why their character feels different - they may attribute it to a special morning routine. Who knows.
Talent tier advantage
If you're familiar with the basics of Heroes of the Storm, we know that Heroes get new talent picks at level 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. These talents give powerful bonuses that will often win team fights for you. Engaging in a team fight when the enemy team has 1 more talent is usually a bad idea (11v13, 15v16). When behind, a team must choose their fight carefully to have minimal disadvantage. If you can't get a 5v4, at least make sure you're level 16 vs 18 so that you're not down a talent.
Besides talents, there's the character stats to consider (press "c" to see your char stats in the game). In the current version of Heroes of the Storm (16-Nov-2015), all Heroes get a fixed amount of HP & Damage increase per level-up. If you have 1000 HP at level 1, and gain 220 HP per level-up, you'll have 1220 and level 2 and 1440 at level 3. These are huge relative differences which creates a big power difference between a team that is on level 2 versus a team that is on level 3 Hero Levels.
For example consider these no-talent-picked hero stats:
Both damage and HP see huge relative differences at the early levels. Even without good play, the stats will generally do their work for you, and it will be rare to see a level 4 team lose to a level 3 team, because they are up a talent AND up ~20% overall statistical strength.
The difference between level 21 and 22 is decent, but 4% differences in stats are unlikely to be as decisive as would be proper micromanagement, control, mechanics, decision making and positioning.
In the new scaling, all Heroes will gain roughly 4% power per level. This is already happening at level 20->21 currently, but as illustrated very clearly not at level 1. This is achieved in the new scaling by bringing up everyone's Base HP and Base Damage roughly to their previous level 8 values. So a Chen will start with ~2600 HP at level 1, and a Thrall may start with 150+ damage on his auto attack.
Additionally, Blizzard said death timers will be increased at level 1 just like Hero's stats, also to about their level 8 value.
A possible unintended side-effect so far, is that every Hero's strength against minion waves has been changed from what it is currently. Enemy fortifications also hit Heroes weaker, right from the get go at level 1. In the new patch, you can easily take several tower shots without going into lethal range in a 1v1, whereas before that was suicide.
More early game action?
As a result of the above, making ganks on enemy squishies in the early game will be far easier. The increased death timers also makes it more rewarding. The presumed goal is to enhance early game action, add more meaning to early kills particularly in how they deny enemy experience soak, and make all Heroes feel more powerful and characteristic at level 1 already.
Blizzard is taking quite a risk here with these changes. Game balancing has been quite effective, as 36 out of 42 active Heroes saw competitive play at BlizzCon. Big or small changes will always need to be made continuously to adjust to discoveries or developments, but nothing quite as big as this has happened before. Blizzard is making a statement that they believe this will be for the best of the gameplay, otherwise they wouldn't take a risk like that. I believe they are right, but it remains to be seen.
Whether these changes will have the intended effect, we will know soon, but one thing is for sure. Everything you think you know about the meta, and each Hero's respective strength and viability, is going to change completely once the new patch hits. It's like a reset on balancing, and I invite everyone to keep an open mind to Gazlowe, Thrall, and Hammer picks. Experiment, play some games, and share your experiences with Grubby via Twitter on @followgrubby.
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