Mech: How Will It Work in HotS?
The Current Meta
We have seen resurgence in the use of a solid Mech composition in the TvZ matchup. Take an example: MVP vs. Life two GSL finals ago, where we saw a strong MVP use Mech to great effect, nearly clenching the set but failing to recognize a critical flaw in his army split and lost the series 3-4. Right now, Mech is a very viable option which, although suffering from some vulnerabilities in its transitions and compositional balance, is a strong way to mix it up from the standard Marine+Tank comp.
With HotS just a month from release, let’s talk about some of the things Blizzard is trying to implement to make this style of play even more well-rounded. So far, it seems that the traditional Mech setup has not changed a lot but let's see how that setup functions with Blizzard's changes.
Requires Armory, 100 minerals, 2 supply
18 Dmg / 30 Dmg vs light (small splash)
0 Armor / 2.25 Move speed
Does not benefit from Blue Flame upgrade
With its recent buff, it’s fair to say that this Mechanical Firebat is a welcome addition to the Mech arsenal. Hellions in WoL have always been a bit finicky when it comes to straight up engagements but are a deadly harass unit. It has resulted in Mech players trading Hellions for workers until they can build up a big enough Tank+Thor count.
All fine and good, but it looks like Blizzard really wants the Hellion to be a worthwhile combat unit. Introducing, the Hellbat. It tanks, does even more damage than the Hellion, and has a wider but shorter splash, making it an extremely powerful ‘melee’ style unit that Terran has always lacked. Requiring only an Armory, this means that a Terran player will have a much more stable early to mid-game transition. The Hellbat’s extra health allows it to fare better against aggressive Roach drops or all-ins. Though with a whole new meta yet to be explored, it is probably too early to say if the buff and the unit as a whole will stand the test of time.
The Widow Mine
125 Dmg / +35 to shields
0 Armor / 2.81 Move speed
4 second root time, upgradable to 1 second
This is an interesting unit. We could compare it to the Spider Mine of Brood War, which essentially, serves the same purpose in HotS thus far. The harass potential of the Widow Mine is decent, able to pick off stray units without any detection while having the ability to reposition to match the threat. The defensive nature of the unit however, is far greater. Its recent buff vs. Protoss allows it to now one-shot Zealots and Stalkers, allowing it to be an extremely strong defensive unit within a Mech opening in TvP.
Blizzard wants to make the Widow Mine a part of the TvP matchup. Realizing this, the decision to remove envision from the Mothership Core means that any Protoss player looking to attack a Terran with a few widow mines is going to have a tough time at it.
At its core, the Widow Mine’s primary focus is to support a Mech army, either by helping to zone an enemy or by softening the initial rush. It’s a great counter “peeling” unit. Set it up in an exposed flank and you’ve got yourself a fairly decent early warning/determent system.
The combined armor upgrade (Ground/Air)
This is a welcome buff to end-game Mech. It has always been extremely difficult to switch into an air composition in the late game for Terran; this buff should make it just a little bit easier since Terran players will not have to restart all Armory upgrades. This was a finicky issue when it came to TvZ Mech in WoL when the Zerg usually had a decent upgrade advantage for their Corruptors.
The new Thor
The removal of the energy bar brings about a couple of things:
- Blizzard knows that the ability is utter bollocks and has no use in any realistic scenario,
- Again, as with the Widow Mine buff, they want to make the unit more viable in TvP.
The biggest weakness of the Thor against Protoss has been its vulnerability to Feedbacks (along with Immortals). With that gone, the Thor seems like a more viable option though it probably isn’t a big enough change to turn many heads due to its weakness to the Immortal’s hardened shield and high damage.
The Thor’s new AA attack is reminiscent of Brood War’s Goliath unit. Though not as powerful vs. air as the Viking, the new AA still benefits as being the longest range ground-to-air attack in the game while doing at least decent damage. (The single shot attack makes it stronger against high armor targets) This is most likely addressing air units that begin with high armor, such as Corruptors and possibly Tempests. The Thor will end up dealing more damage with its new attack if the target has 3 or more armor. Also, the attack speed is slightly higher (3 down to 2 attack speed) It’s not the biggest change either, but hey, every small change helps.
Overall, it looks like the Widow Mine and Thor are going to have to break the meta when it comes to Mech in TvP. The removal of siege mode seems very strong now (welcome back 1/1/1!) and the Hellbat should greatly help Mech’s strength in general. It should be interesting to see what will come of these changes once MLG and IPL hit in March.