The Nydus Network has never been in a very good spot in Sc2, and as I will argue below, the direction it has taken in LOTV isn't one I like either. But while I used to think there was no way the Nydus could properly be implemented into the game, I recently came up with an idea that promote a type of gameplay that is more focussed on rewarding multitasking and back-and-fourth games.
The role of the Nydus in the past
In BW it functioned as a way to get your units from one of your bases to another very quickly. However, in Sc2 zerg got creep spread and a big larva buff resulting in them having easier access to map control, and therefore a defensive Nydus wasn't really needed anymore.
In Sc2, the role of the Nydus had to be different, and Blizzard attempted to make it more of an offensive tool. But unfortunately it became an all-or-nothing strategy. Either the enemy didn't kill it in time and the zerg would win, or he would kill it in time and shut it down completely.
In LOTV, Blizzard has tried to adress this issue by making it always work. But making it always work has also resulted in all-ins being insanely hard to stop whic has caused lots of games to be very short with little back-and-fourth play. While I love an actionpacked game, it's also super important that the game has back-and-fourth opportunities.
Therefore I believe that 1 Nydus Network should almost never be able to directly decide the game. The LOTV-Nydus instead often comes down to whether you have enough units to kill the enemy army (and the Nydus) after it pops, or whether the zerg has too much stuff and overruns you --> Game ends.
How I imagine the future role of the Nydus
Ideally, the Nydus Network must be very different from Overlord drops. Overlord drops allows you transport a large percentage of your army into the enemy base (or on top of enemy tanks as we saw in BW) and the proces between loading up units and unloading them into enemy base is quite long.
Since I actually like how Overlord functions from a design-perspective, I rather change the Nydus to make it different from Overlord drops than vice versa.
So ideally, the Nydus Network must have the following characteristica;
- Lower risk/lower reward
- Instant effect/"teleportation"
- More reliable than Overlord drops
- Allow counterplay
- Reward action and multitasking
For years I have thought about changes to the Nydus that fulfilled the above criteria, but I couldn't come up with anything... Untill yesterday, where I experimented with the below changes:
(note: Don't focus excessively on specific numbers, they can be tweaked for balance purposes)
Suggested Nydus Network changes;
- HP of Nydus Canal reduced from 200 to 40
- Nydus Canal cost reduced to 50/50 from 100/100
- Nydus Canal build-time reduced to 3 seconds from 20 seconds --> Much better at getting 1-5 units through it
- Nydus Canal unload time per unit increased from 0.5 to 3 seconds --> Results in it taking much much longer for large armies to get through it.
This Nydus Network has a completely different risk/reward from the classical Sc2-network. Its not very good at transporting lots of cheap/weak units (Speedlings, Roaches and Hydras) through it. Instead its a strong tool of getting more expensive units such as Ravagers, Infestors, Ultras and espcially Lurkers in smaller numbers into the enemy base or close to one of the outer expansions.
While the Nydus goes up almost instantly, its very easy to kill for two reasons;
(1) The zerg player doesn't have a big army attacking you while you try to kill it.
(2) It only has 40 HP.
How it differs from Overlord drops
First of all, I believe Overlord drops should be buffed. I imagine the upgrade behind cheaper (100/100) and perhaps they can move slightly faster as well.
But Overlord drops are better at getting a medium-sized armies into the enemy base. You can have 8 Zerglings in one overlord, but getting 8 Zerglings through a Nydus Canal takes 21 seconds (read: not worth it). And the Nydus-concept is much more of an instant-effect (but less reward in most case) while Overlord drops have a higher reward.
What skillset it rewards
Multitasking... ang mass. A skilled zerg player will attack you few units everywhere on the map almost all the time. The enemy can counter it by killing the Nydus or splitting his units up to deny vision so Nydus cannot be placed close to any bases.
What is the risk
The risk of this Nydus Network going wrong is not removed but merely changed. Rather than it being about the zerg building a large army and crossing the fingers that he can get them through the Canal, the risk is now more focussed on the enemy killing the Nydus Canal after it has unloaded the units. With only 40 HP, its much easier for the enemy to kill the Nydus. So if the zerg player overextends or stay too long, he can get stuck with a few Lurkers, Ravagers or an Ultralisk in the enemy base.