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by Published on 2019-06-22 03:44 PM

2019 Season 3 - Changes and Updates
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)

2019 Season 3 is the first season that shows off some updates and changes to ranked play within Heroes of the Storm.

Season Roll Dates

2019 Season 3 will begin as soon as our next patch becomes available for download in each region. Check the season start and end dates below to make sure you’re able to dive into the rankings as soon as the season rolls:

Event Date
2019 Season 3 Start Week of August 5, 2019*
2019 Season 3 End Week of December 2, 2019*

*Exact date may vary slightly by region.

Rank Changes

Your Rank (League Tier and Division) is now determined by your MMR directly and adjusted by penalties, such as Leaver Penalty. As a result, you will see a bit more volatility in your Rank Points changes after winning or losing a game.

Placement Games Count Reduced to 3

Players will only have to play 3 games to be placed in Storm League.

Promotion and Demotion Games Removed

Promotion and Demotion Games will be removed. You will seamlessly transition between League Tiers and Divisions as you earn or lose Rank Points.

Rank Penalties

Leaving a Ranked Draft Lobby or abandoning a Ranked Game will result in 500 Rank Points penalty. Penalized players will be able to slowly redeem the points lost due to penalty by playing Ranked Games.

Ranked matches are still affected normal Leaver penalty, preventing penalized players from playing Draft games until they play a certain amount of Quick Match or Brawl games and matching them with other leavers.

Rank Decay

We’re introducing MMR and Rank decay for inactive Storm League players.

As with Hero League, the decay will affect players in Grand Master, Master and Diamond leagues. Contrary to Hero League, Storm League’s rank decay will also affect unplaced players if their MMR is equal to Diamond League level or above.

The rules will be the same throughout all affected Leagues. At the beginning of Ranked season, inactivity timer will be at 10 days. By playing Ranked games, players will earn extra inactivity time, up to 30 days. When the inactivity timer expires, player is considered “inactive”. Inactive players will slowly lose their MMR and Rank until it decays below Diamond League, or Diamond League-level MMR for unplaced players, or until they play a Storm League match.

By playing a ranked match, inactive player will reset their inactivity timer to 3 days.

Ranked Seasonal Quests

Special Seasonal questlines will be available to all players. It will consist of 4 quests, each requiring a player to win a certain amount of Storm League games. Each quest yields increasing gold rewards.

New quest lines will be available every season, and a player must complete the entire quest line to be eligible for the End of Season rewards. Placement games count towards the quest line progress.

You will see the Ranked Seasonal Quest line progress on the Ranked Play screen.

We’ll be sharing what ranked play rewards will be in our next blog closer to 2019 Season 3 launch.

See you in the Nexus!
by Published on 2019-06-21 07:49 PM

Heroes Hero Rework, Balance and Art AMA - June 20, 2019 Recap

  • The team won't commit to a set amount of heroes per year, to allow flexibility in what they want to accomplish. More heroes are definitely coming though.
  • Tassadar's rework has been delayed a few times to fit in more cool. "Rework" is being described as an insufficient word to detail the changes coming.
  • Whitemane is scheduled for a significant talent rework "sooner or later".
  • Samuro is in a tight spot gameplay-wise, but he's not currently on the list for a rework since others need it more.
  • The mana cost adjustment went over well in bringing parity to mana costs between heroes. Outliers are monitored for future changes.
  • Terrain collision lines will be made visible to Auriel.
  • There are no current plans for introducing Blizzard Classic heroes, such as Rock'n'Roll Racing characters or Blackthorne.
  • Malthael has a 53.1% winrate and is the 3rd-best bruiser currently, behind Ragnaros and Rexxar.
    • Last Rites is picked in 78.7% of matches.
    • While Tormented Souls is at a 21.3% pick-rate, it's win-rate is actually .4% higher than Last Rite's.
  • Rexxar is currently the strongest hero in the game with a 57.9% win-rate.
  • Genji is currently the lowest hero with a 43.8% win-rate.
  • Diablo and Garrosh are in the Bottom 7, despite their high ban-rate. At Platinum and above, Diablo is the second-most banned at 41%, with Garrosh the 5th-most banned at 22%.
  • Kael'thas is banned 55% of the time in Gold and below, banned 31% of the time in Platinum and Diamond, and banned 3% of the time in Master.
    • His win-rate is 53% in Gold and below, and 51% in Platinum and above.

  • A new hero skin takes 6-12 months to create, with complicated heroes like Stukov and Ragnaros taking the longer time. The team would be able to make two or three other skins in the time it takes to make one for Ragnaros.
  • Synced facial animations for new heroes are being discontinued due to the massive amount of work behind them. The animators will instead spend the time on other new content.
  • The animators do not use motion capture, everything is done by hand.
  • Mecha Valla costs more than Mecha Yrel since that skin had to undergo significant asset changes compared to Yrel's.
  • Orphea is in line for a new skin.
  • Sky Temple may be getting some lighting adjustments in order to make spell effects more visible to players.

  • A solo-queue option for ranked is not currently in the cards as it would split the queue in two, with far higher queue times for the solo-queue population.
  • Loss Forgiveness has been delayed a bit. Other features to deal with AFKers and leavers are being working on as well.

  • AI improvements are actively being worked on. The Ana/Abathur rework update broke some things, but the AI's performance is about back to where it was.
  • The solo lane experience is on the team's radar for improvement.
  • The Echoes of Alterac quest rewards will be made available for purchase later this summer.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Are the Devs having a good day? Get a nice cup of coffee, you deserve it.
Today is already amazing (I love getting to chat with y'all), and we're having a team mecha-launch-live-playtest-celebration later, so this afternoon's forecast is predicting some glorious self-set wombos with Crushing Jaws, Chomp, and Invasive Miasma.

I hope your day is equally delightful. <3 (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

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! (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

November last year there was a Twitch Drops event for Heroes of the Storm that awarded a set of in-game emoji and portraits based around Orphea's Chomping companion, and in the rules for that giveaway there were several countries that were ineligible to receive these in-game rewards. Could those of us in those countries be given the option to spend shards to get these items?
Good question! I'll look into the details of this and see what we can do. Thanks for calling it out, /u/Spazzo965! (/u/KaeoMilker)

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.
I'm sorry but it's a bit different. Hero League and Team League: Solo Queue & Group Queue. Storm League: Solo Queue & Solo/Group Queue. Do you think it's still too much for the matchmaking to have decent queue times?
From matchmaker's standpoint, having a checkbox is not much different from having 2 separate queues, aside from solo queue being able to pull soloes from the party queue. One matchmaking pool for the whole Ranked population and being able to mix and match different party sizes together with solo players is a huge help to the matchmaker.

Again, I see what you're saying - some solo players want to play with solo players only. That's understandable, but the tradeoffs are just too great to blatantly separate them from parties. We've been actively looking for a compromise but are still hunting for the best solution. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

When making a new Skin event or even just new Skins in general, what goes into determining giving a 9000th skin to Valla or Stitches over Heroes who still don't have many?
A lot goes in to planning out skin and theme packs. Primarily it comes down to what we think the players will be excited about, what are team is passionate to work on, and the complexity around the Hero. That last one is important. Some Heroes are more complicated than others. A good example of hero complexity is Ragnaros.

Sometimes an idea for an FX drives a skin. As far as Mecha Valla. I love that skin. The drunken missile concept sealed the deal for our Art Director Trev and I agree. It's super cool! Check out this cool concept. https://imgur.com/a/ZyIBhwC

As far as Stitches goes. He such a fun Hero but we kept getting feedback that he had a ton of gross skins. We wanted to give him one more approachable like Toy Stitches. The low skin count on some of our favorite heroes is something we want to fix and the team is hard at work creating some amazing skins that we hope you will enjoy. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

Are there any updates you can share with us on the topic of kerning?
Secret emoji is in the wor ks. I can almost hear your warsong as I type this mes sage, the constant steady thumps faintly echoing throu ghout the Nexus, as if the Nexus itself had a heartbeat. There are folks here looking into it, but no prom ises can be made this day.

I'm tilt ed. (source)

Do you have a “vision” of how the game should be played?
We don't want to enforce too strict a meta on the game, but I do think we have a few pillars.
  • Team fighting should be a major (but not neccessarily the only) focus of the game
  • There should be periods of intense action and periods of light action
  • We've found that the game is most fun when there are a variety of useful roles, primarily at least a tank, a damage dealer, and a healer on both teams.
  • There should usually be multiple strategic options on a map. Even if we require the an objective to be paid attention to, there should be multiple strategic options with how to deal with it.

A lot of us play the game solo. Personally, I almost exclusively play solo Storm League, which is just how I've always played the game. I enjoy meeting random people and challenging myself to climb the ladder on my own. I think the biggest takeaway I have from playing solo for so long is that our game could do a better job of teaching you how to be successful in a given match. Things like building team compositions, Battleground dynamics, macro play, zoning, and playing from behind aren't easily learned mechanics. We don't think that Heroes should hold your hand and tell you exactly what to do, but it should do a better job of surfaces the questions for you to figure out on your own.

For a long time a lot Twitch, Youtube, and online guides have done a great job of educating the player base, but only a fraction of people engage with these on a common basis. So we're looking to see if we can make a few things more intuitive in these areas. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

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?
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! (/u/BlizzKGu)

Hey Oscar! Last year I missed you at signing during Blizzcon and I just wanna know if some white and enamel pins made it your way that I handed to a very nice coworker of yours last year! My long time friend I love the Whitemane design you did so so much!
I DID IM VERY GLAD I FOUND YOU! THOSE ARE MY FAVORITE PINS! They were given to me and I have them literally framed on my wall in my room. They are so beautiful and I was extremely honored to receive them! I also wasn't signing last year because I was doing media interviews D: Hopefully this year we get to meet!
second question if allowed: is it possible to have a fan skin contest? I know there’s likely a lot of legal hurdles that need to be handled but myself and a few other art friends on Twitter love thinking of the possibilities and we get such great appreciation from you guys!
As for a fan skin contest, the team has no plans to do it at the moment, but we are open to doing it! I personally think it'd be pretty fun. and lastly...pls give twitter handle...i love ur art... (/u/Blizz_Vega)

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?
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. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

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. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

[extremely detailed Alarak question]
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 hope this answers your question! (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

How do you come up with talent names? It seems like a weird question but it's a lot like naming fake technology. Do you think of lore references? Do you draw nouns and adjectives from a hat? How do you decide which talent gets which name?
Epic question. Personally, I consider lore and talent mechanics as the major determining factors for a talent name. Some questions I ask myself:
  • Is it spelled correctly? Ignore if Gazlowe.
  • Does it make sense? Check again.
  • Am I ROFL? Then it's probably not funny or clever.
  • ????
  • Ship it.

Naming anything is the hardest part of the job, truly. (/u/BlizzKGu)

Can Rock'n'Roll Racing join the Heroes of the Storm this year?
We love the Blizzard classic games and characters and definitely want to bring more of them into Heroes. There are no current plans, but games like Rock'n'Roll Racing and Blackthorne are definitely on our radar as possible future additions! (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

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.
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! (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

How long does it take, on average, to create a HOTS skin from concept to finish, and which hero is the most complex/time consuming to make a skin for?
It definitely varies from skin to skin, and 6-12 months is a pretty good guess at the time frame. The more physical models a skin requires, or however many animations we have to rework makes it more challenging/time consuming. Stukov, for example has a different model for pretty much all of his abilities, as well as a pretty complicated hook up for things like Massive Shove. Ragnaros is also tough because he has multiple forms, two different kits, lots of physical models, AND complicated hooks. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

It would be great if we can have a toggle option or alternative skins for Raynor/Tychus where they have their visors down, like in hero selection. Would that be possible?
We've had discussions about this in the past. There's no plans for it currently but a toggle for those and Murky sound awesome! (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

When can I buy El Guapo? the best announcer of all. I missed the oportunity in the Lucha Libre event.
Available right now in your Collection, Announcers/Nexus category. Go grab it! (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

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. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

Do you have any plans for Whitemane?
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 ;) (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Currently Valla suffers a lot from meta heroes because she is too much squishy, too much mana dependant and too reliant on team comps/allied skills.
Stay tuned. She should see some minor balance adjustments soon. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

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?
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! (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

How many people usually work on hero reworks?
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 :) (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

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! (/u/Blizz_Hankins)

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! (/u/Blizz_Vega)

Will you ever bring out a new series of Sun’s Out Guns Out skins?
Anything is possible in the Nexus! We've taken a little bit of a break from doing those skins because we wanted to try something different for the last couple of years. This isn't to say we couldn't do more in the future but we have a lot of awesome ideas for the summer event and it's hard to cram all of those ideas into a single event. Thanks for the question! (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

Will there ever be a new Orphea skin?
hell yea
OH yeah.
Yeh. (source)

When can we expect a /u/Blizz_LanaB announcer? Thanks for your time.
I know if you'd want that. It would just dunk on you the whole time. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

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?
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! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Can we get an Alexstrasza Mecha Skin? A dragon robot would be freakin awesome!
Dragon robots are always awesome. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

Art-wise - Who was your favorite heroes to do the animations/models for and why?
Dehaka - I like monsters.

Chromie - It was the first cute thing I made maybe ever.

Orphea - My sweet angsty daughter monster baby with the most glorious FX of all time (Courtesy of /u/Blizz_Thomas), working with incredibly talented people, and having the opportunity to develop the most amazing team dynamic alongside developing my favorite hero. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

I honestly need more rainbows in my life (And not just because it's Pride Month) so my question is, while I love all of the stuff already, can we get a Whimsyshire style event with just tons of over the top rainbows and sparkles and starts and shiny effects? Rainbow Unicorn Lunara skin! If you need suggestions to get you started.
Anything is possible in the Nexus! (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

Could you make the crab mounts return? I want a crab.
We love the crabs too! I believe there's discussions for not only the eventual return of the crabs, but possibly some new crab friends as well. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

Have you ever considered making a hero that only consists from particles art-wise?
Uh, YEAH! I was super excited to make the cloud mounts (Nimbus and Whimsyshire) because they were the first "All FX" mounts in the game.

But, a Hero is another story... Although I think it would be amazing, particles and FX can be very expensive. Having a hero that consists entirely of particles would mean having those particles rendering all the time. We'd also have to come up with a way to show status effects like stun, flail, etc. that normally telegraph primarily through animation. Also, how would it look on Low Settings?

It's a fun idea though and i'd love to take on the challenge some day. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

No question. Just want you to know I love you guys.
We love you guys, too. <3 (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

Can we enable a single player to use Cho or Gal in Coop Mode? For example, a player who chooses Cho will be matched with Gal. That should help familiarize more players with that unique hero.
That's a great suggestion. I don't know the answer off the top of my head, but I will look into it and reach out to the appropriate people. Thank you! (/u/BlizzKGu)

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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Kel'Thuzad has always the same problem, a scaling problem. Too weak in early game and too strong in late cause of his natural quest. So do you think about up his naturals numbers and nerf the amount of spell power with the quest ?
The design team has been discussing this issue quite a bit lately. The Butcher also struggles with this quite a bit and we are trying to figure out how we want to tackle the problem while maintaining their unique identities. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Is it safe to expect a hero release schedule of 3/4 per year?
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! (/u/KaeoMilker)

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?
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! (/u/Blizz_JeffB)

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. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

Clarification on what "Visible Direct MMR To Rank-Point Mapping" means?
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).
Did you consider using a different type of penalty than cutting Rank Points instead?
We did, and we still do. For example, temporary or permanent disqualifications from the Storm League for repeated offenders is also something we might introduce in future, depending on how effective the Rank penalties would be. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

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?
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! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

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?
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). (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

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?
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. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

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...Can you explain the reasoning behind this design, and whether you'll continue pushing this further?
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! (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

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! (/u/Blizz_Hankins)

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?
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? (/u/BlizzKGu)

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?
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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Can we have a map art overhaul of Sky Temples? like the you did to Dragon Shire? Or do we have to wait for Ravenlord to invade that realm to improve it's art? That map's brightness and redness makes it hard to see many skill animations and the enemy AoEs. I even struggle to see minion healthbars sometimes when I play heroes that want to last hit (Rag, Azmo...)
It's unlikely that we will do an overhaul of the art for Sky Temple because we're happy with the way the art looks. However, we are experimenting on changing the lighting for the map so that FX will show up better. Initial testing has been well received but there's still some work to be done. There's no guarantee that it will make it to live but we are looking for solutions. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

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.
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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

What is biggest overall gameplay problem bothering your right now? What is something fundamental you want to fix?
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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

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.
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! (/u/KaeoMilker)

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.
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.
I don't understand why mecha Yrel opens the torso doors if the pilot is just going to teleport inside.
You think you can just teleport through future-space-titanium-lead-future-metal-alloy? Nah, dude, that's a security risk, and you know it. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

Are there any forseeable Malthael changes coming?
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. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

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. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

Its a great game. We appreciate your work. Thanks guys!
And we love YOU. Thanks for hanging out with us <3 (/u/BlizzKGu)

Could we get the iconic SC1 teal color for the default Terran skins?
I really would love to do this and have been pushing for it for a while There's no concrete plans but it is on our minds. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

Is there a timeline and/or any teases for Tassadar's rework?
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! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Could you fix Anduin's facial animations in draft?
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! (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

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! (/u/Blizz_Vega)

Can self shields be considered as "healing" in stats? same as self-healing? (Zarya , Artanis come to mind)
Thanks for the great suggestion! I will certainly look into this. (/u/BlizzKGu)

Does Blizzard plan to ever adress Samuro's core design problems and toxic playstyle?
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 :P

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. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)
Have you considered changing Samuro images to not be heroes? They'd still use a model+nameplate that looks like a hero, but they wouldn't count as one for any abilities / talents that have a different effect on non-hero units.
I actually suggested this a long time ago and we tried it for some time with unsatisfactory results. There were a lot of weird interactions that happened due to various ways that we have abilities, effects, quests, and other mechanics interact specifically with Heroes. There was also a weird expectation loss on the opponent's side when they would hit an Illusion and it looked exactly like a Hero, but they wouldn't get quest credit or procs for talents. As one small example (there were tons of them), Tyrael couldn't target Illusions with Judgment but could hit the real Samuro, making him very easy to find and kill. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)
you know that the skill floor is already that high because IM is the only viable option for samuro to actually be a hero right?
At the current height of Illusion Master's perceptive power, 31.3% of people didn't pick it at high level play last patch. I don't want to alienate them or other people who could potentially come to the hero if the Heroics were perceived to be more equal. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

When Echoes of Alterac released, we were told that despite the choice, "Don’t worry: all Quest rewards will become available in basic Loot Chests next summer.". Is this happening currently? Will the other bundle only mounts that were released back then (armored wolfs and rams) be added too?
Those items weren’t seasonal (like “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” or “Nexomania” rewards), so they’re not in the Loot chests just yet. We’re still planning to make them available this summer. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

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.
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). (/u/BlizzNeyman)

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. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

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. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)

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. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

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. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)
by Published on 2019-06-18 05:14 PM

Upcoming Heroes of the Storm AMA - June 20, 2019

Heroes of the Storm Live Patch Notes - June 18, 2019

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)

Our next Heroes of the Storm patch is live and brings several bug fixes, a new event, new bundles, skins and mounts, along with a Chen rework and more! Read on for more information.

Quick Navigation:


Many seasonal items have made their way back into the collection and will be available for crafting and in Loot Chests for a limited time!

New Bundles (Limited Time Only!)
  • MechasStorm II Bundle
  • Mecha Yrel Skin Pack
  • Mecha Valla Skin Pack
  • Xenotech Malthael Skin Pack
  • Seraph Wing Bundle

New Skins (Limited Time Only!)
  • Mecha Yrel
    • Prototype Mecha Yrel
    • Master Mecha Yrel
    • Lunar Mecha Yrel
    • Carbon Fiber Mecha Yrel
  • Mecha Valla
    • ​Prototype Mecha Valla
    • Master Mecha Valla
    • Solar Mecha Valla
    • Alloy Mecha Valla
  • Xenotech Malthael
    • Apex Xenotech Malthael
    • Twilight Xenotech Malthael
    • Umbral Xenotech Malthael
    • Gamma Xenotech Malthael
  • Hunter Mecha Dehaka
  • Galactic Xenotech Abathur
  • Maritime Dropkick Kharazim

New Mounts (Limited Time Only!)
  • Seraph Wing
    • Holy Seraph Wing
    • Fierce Seraph Wing
    • Eternal Seraph Wing
    • Guardian Seraph Wing
    • Prototype Seraph Wing
  • Fel Razorgrin

New Portraits and Sprays (Limited Time Only!)
  • Several new sprays and portraits have also been added to the game.

MechaStorm II

Xenotech threatens the planet once again. This new invasion is being led by Mecha Malthael, sowing havoc and destruction across Neo-Stormwind. Many outposts and cities have already felt the wrath of the Mecha Archangel of Death.

A new generation of Heroes arise to defend the innocent. Equipped with cutting edge Mecha technology provided by Neo-President Anduin, the young pilots prepare for the battles ahead.

You must stand together alongside Valla and Yrel as members of the MechaStorm to help bring Xenotech’s Mecha Malthael’s advance to a halt. However, you must first make sure your equipment is up to the task.

MechaStorm II Quest Chain

Repair, upgrade and run repeatable combat simulation missions for each part of Mecha Tyrael. Join the Neo-Stormwind’s mobile Mecha squadron alongside Valla and Yrel to help push back the Xenotech invasion being led by Mecha Malthael.

Earn Mecha-themed sprays, portraits and loot boxes while working to unlock Tyrael the Hero as well as the unique Perfect Mecha Tyrael skin.

MechaStorm II Loot Chests

From June 17th to August 5th, your main goal will be working to thwart the Xenotech invasion. During this time all Loot Chests earned or bought with Gold will be Mechastorm II Loot Chests (excluding Hero-specific ones). These Loot Chests guarantee at least one item from either MechaStorm II or previous years’ Summer Events.

Note: Loot Chests earned prior to the start of this event will not become MechaStorm II Loot Chests.

UPDATE: The Ranked Season naming convention has been changed. We are changing the naming convention to be a numbers and year string instead.
  • For the 1st season ending in 2019 the string would be "2019 Season 1"
  • Storm League Preseason would be "2019 Season 2"
  • Storm League initial season would be "2019 Season 3"




  • Keg Smash [W]
    • Brew cost increased from 20 to 30
    • New functionality: Smash Chen's keg, dealing damage, drenching affected enemies in Brew for 3 seconds, and Slowing them by 10% for 1.5 seconds. After 1.5 seconds, the Slow is increased to 40% for 1.5 seconds. After being used, this ability becomes Breath of Fire.
  • Breath of Fire [E]
    • This ability has been moved to the W button, and is available after Keg Smash has been used
    • Cooldown reduced from 5 seconds to 1.5 seconds
    • Impact damage reduced from 96 to 85
    • Periodic damage increased from 32 to 55
    • Brew cost reduced from 30 to 10
    • Adjusted functionality: Using Breath of Fire on Brew-soaked enemy causes them to be Ignited, dealing damage over 3 seconds and adding 1.5 seconds to the duration of the Slow from Keg Smash. After being used or after 6 seconds, this ability becomes Keg Smash
  • New Ability: Stagger [E]
    • Damage taken over the next 3 seconds is prevented. Once this effect ends, Chen receives 75% of the damage taken over 5 seconds. 18-second CD
  • Fortifying Brew [Trait]
    • No longer grants 25 Brew instantly
    • Brew regeneration increased from 30 to 50 per second
    • Cooldown increased from 5 to 7 seconds
    • Channel time reduced from 5 to 4 seconds
    • Shield amount decreased from 196 to 180 per second
    • This reduces the total shields for fully drinking from 588 to 540
    • Shield duration increased from 2 to 4 seconds
  • Level 1
    • Stormstout Secret Recipe [Passive]
      • Moved from Level 20
      • Healing increased from 1.5% to 2% of Chen’s maximum health
    • New Talent: Eye of the Tiger [Passive]
      • Adjusted functionality - Quest: Increase Regeneration Globe Healing duration by 100%. Reward: After collecting 15 Regeneration Globes, 50% of the Shield from Fortifying Brew persists indefinitely after drinking
  • Level 4
    • Keg Toss [W]
      • Removed
    • Withering Flames [W]
      • Moved from Level 13
      • Duration increased from 3 to 4 seconds
    • Accumulating Flame [W]
      • Moved from Level 1
      • New functionality: Increase Ignited damage by 25% and Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes who are Ignited increase its duration by .75 seconds
  • Level 7
    • Bolder Flavor [Trait]
      • Removed
    • Elusive Brawler [Active]
      • Moved from Level 1
      • Additional functionality: While active, also grants Chen 30% Movement Speed
    • New Talent: Gift of the Ox [E]
      • Increase Stagger’s duration by .5 seconds, and reduce the amount of damage taken over time to 60% of damage taken
  • Level 10
    • Wandering Keg [R1]
      • Wandering Keg's Movement Speed bonus no longer stacks with other Movement Speed bonuses.
      • Movement speed bonus increased from 60% to 70%
      • Knockback duration increased by ~28%
      • Knockback speed increased by ~53%
    • Storm Earth Fire [R2]
      • Spirit Health reduced from 75% of Chen's Health to 70%
      • Each ability can only be cast once. The final ability that is cast is empowered.
    • Storm [Q]
      • New functionality: The spirits gain a shield for 400 over 3 seconds. If this is the final ability cast, the shield amount is increased to 750 with no limited duration, and the duration of Storm Earth Fire is increased by 5 seconds.
    • Earth [W]
      • New functionality: Fire and Earth leap to the target location, dealing 32 damage and slowing enemies in a large area by 70% for 1.5 seconds. If this is the final ability cast, increase the damage dealt by 300% and the leap instead roots enemy Heroes hit for 1.75 seconds.
      • Earth Ability range increased from 7 to 9
      • Earth Unit basic attack Slow reduced from 2 seconds to 1.75 seconds
      • Earth Unit attack period increased from 2 to 1.5
    • Fire [E]
      • New functionality: Increase the attack speed and attack damage of the spirits by 50% for 5 seconds. If this is the final ability cast, increase the attack speed and attack damage bonus to 75% and the spirits gain 50% movement speed for its duration
  • Level 13
    • Ring of Fire [W]
      • Moved from Level 4
      • Adjusted functionality: After Igniting an enemy, burst into flames, dealing damage to nearby enemies
      • Duration increased from 3 to 5 seconds
      • Damage increased from 52 to 60
    • Enough to Share [Trait]
      • Moved from Level 16
      • Additional functionality: Duration increased from 2 to 4 seconds
      • Allied Shield amount increased from 27 to 70
      • Additional functionality: Now also instantly Shields Chen for 180
    • Pressure Point [Q]
      • Adjusted functionality: Flying Kick Slows the target enemy for 35% for 1 second, or by 70% if Chen has Shields from Fortifying Brew
    • A Touch of Honey [W]
      • New functionality: Increase the Slow from Keg Smash by 10% and its duration by .5 seconds
  • Level 16
    • Another Round [W]
      • Removed
    • New Talent: Celerity [E]
      • Basic Attacks against Slowed, Rooted, or Stunned enemy Heroes reduce the cooldown of Stagger by 1.5 seconds and grant Chen 15 Armor for 3 seconds
    • New Talent: Combo Strikes [Trait]
      • Every 3rd Basic Attack against the same target deals 75% bonus damage. While Chen has Shields from Fortifying Brew and for 2 seconds after, he gains 50% Attack Speed
    • Flying Leap [Q]
      • Additional Functionality: Reduce the cooldown of Flying Leap by .5 seconds each time an enemy Hero takes damage from being Ignited
  • Level 20
    • Purifying Brew [Trait]
      • Moved from Level 7
      • New functionality: Casting Fortifying Brew grants Chen Unstoppable for 1.5 seconds
    • New Talent: Energizing Brew [Trait]
      • If Chen fully completes his cast of Fortifying Brew, then he gains 20% maximum Health and 20% increased damage for 25 seconds
    • Untapped Potential [R1]
      • Armor bonus increased from 60 to 75
      • Armor bonus now lasts for 3 seconds after Wandering Keg expires
      • Movement Speed increased from 100% to 125%
    • Elemental Conduit [R2]
      • New functionality: Increase the spirits’ Health to 100% of Chen’s maximum Health and all of their abilities are empowered

Developer Comment: The new Chen has finally arrived! We had a blast tinkering with him, and look forward to seeing him unleashed to his full potential in your hands. When taking a look at how to best change him, we primarily focused on adding more opportunities for Chen to make plays and for his opponents to interact with him. Some of his power has been taken out of Fortifying Brew and put into his new ability, Stagger, as well as into his talents. While he may take a bit of time to master, proper management of Chen’s cooldowns should result in a formidable hero that will make a great addition to any team.

Bug Fixes

  • FIXED: Tassadar displays the 'Support' role icon, and is not selected as a valid healer pick when both sides are given a Healer in Shuffle Pick.
  • FIXED: Mercenary Camp captures will show Score Credit Tracking to always match the amount of experience that is being awarded.
  • FIXED: Minions on Tomb of the Spider Queen no longer gain an extra minute of scaling at the start of the game.
  • FIXED: Players will get credit for capturing a Mercenary Camp if you are within an extra 5 radius of the capture point (and on the same team)
  • FIXED: TargetUnit Abilities that can be placed on allies no longer appear invisible to enemy Heroes hit by their area.
  • FIXED: Respec on Try Me Mode map now respawns the player Hero to properly reset all Talents and Quests that Hero had chosen.
  • FIXED: Mecha Valla plays ability sounds that were missing.
  • FIXED: Sledgehammer no longer grants additional Stormbolt Quest stacks on non-Heroic targets.

Heroes, Abilities, & Talents
  • Jaina: Jaina's Water Elemental mimic damage from Wintermute now correctly reflects the tooltip and Balance Update. 50% of Jaina's Basic Frostbolt and Cone of Cold damage is mimicked by the Water Elemental.
  • D.Va: D.Va's Mech is no longer immune to friendly abilities.
  • Chromie: Here and There no longer requires Chromie to have vision of her target location, or the clone she is swapping with.
  • Sylvanas: Using any attack on any previously enemy footmen who have been affected by Possession and turned allied, will still receive friendly fire damage from attacks.
  • Raynor: Raynor's Hyperion Splat now properly matches both its warning splat and its targeting guide.
  • Anub’arak: Cocoon is no longer disjointed by teleports. Cocoon will now redirect, similarly to pyroblast, and fall off if the teleport is far enough away.
by Published on 2019-06-18 04:09 PM

Upcoming Heroes of the Storm AMA - June 20, 2019
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Greetings, Heroes!

We’re going to host a Hero Rework, Balance and Art AMA right here on /r/heroesofthestorm on Thursday, Jun 20, 2019! The Heroes devs will join the thread and answer your questions starting around 10:00 a.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. CEST) until 12:00 p.m. PDT (9:00 p.m. CEST).

We have the following developers on hand answering questions:

When posting multiple AMA questions: Please make an effort to post one question per comment. This will make it easier for others to read through the thread, and will help the devs focus on one question at a time. However, please feel free comment as many times as you'd like in order to get your questions posted.

You can start posting your questions right now, and we'll see you on Thursday!

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