Saying I have been impressed by what I have experienced on the HotS Beta over the past few weeks would be a huge understatement. Every race has gotten new units that fit nicely into current unit compositions, while also allowing the birth of new compositions and new strategies. For the most part, there does not seem to be too many balance issues. Yes some things have become incredibly strong, but they always have counters. For this reason, I have tried to not use these articles are a reason to complain about certain things being overpowered. However, after debating with myself for hours on whether or not I should write this article, it is time for my first complaint of HotS. The Swarm Host.
The Swarm Host is a great unit, and it fits perfectly into the mentality of Zerg players. For those who do not know, the Swarm Host does not have an attack, but can burrow underground and spawn Locusts. This gives Zerg players a type of siege unit, something that they have been lacking for an incredibly long time. The problem I have with this unit however is it is able to trade ridiculously well, without ever really being in harm. For example, say there are a few Swarm Hosts burrowed in front of your base. You have two options. To figure out a way to hold their onslaught, or to try to bust through and kill the Swarm Hosts. Even if the Swarm Hosts are unprotected, the Locusts they spawn are able to trade with other units too well, making it an unwise decision to try to run out and kill them.
Zerg players, however, do need a sort of siege unit besides Brood Lords, but I feel like this idea of having a unit continuously spawn free units is a little too strong for something that is as easy to get as the Swarm Host. For that reason, I feel like they deserve some sort of small change. Increasing the spawn rate or reducing the lifetime of the Locusts is always a good way to go, but that is something that needs to be done delicately and has the chance to completely ruing the unit. Another idea I have is removing the range that Locusts have and make them melee, similar to Broodlings. This will allow some things to delay the swarm of Locusts, such as repairing buildings or using forcefields.
Some might say that this makes the Swarm Host a poor siege unit, but that would not be entirely true. Constantly repairing and force-fielding will not work forever, as minerals and energy will eventually run out, and Locusts won’t. This at least gives players more time to prepare for the inevitable. The Swarm Host is not a typical siege unit, that much is obvious. For this reason, I do not feel they should be as powerful at sieging walls as other siege units. Instead, I think the Swarm Host could be an excellent unit to contain a foe, rather then break down his walls. This would allow Zerg players to expand all over the map, which fits the Zerg mentality much better then the ability to knock down a wall in a matter of seconds. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard decides to do any sort of changes before HotS drops. Until then, players will just need to find new and creative ways to deal with Swarm Hosts.