I believe the Lurker is a unit that is, simply put,way too strong and that nerfing it would enable Zerg to be buffed in other areas to help vs Sky Toss.
Let's go over why I believe the Lurker is too strong:
Costs: 150/150 (Cost of the hydra+cost of morphing to lurker).
Range: 8 (10 with upgrade).
Movement Speed: 4.13
Base Damage: 20 (30 vs armored).
With these stats, it means that it has more health than a tank, while costing only slightly more. And it is much more tankier than a Disruptor which are the comparable siege units from other races. But let's see how it fares against the Protoss Ground Army.
-6 lurkers 1 shot:
- High Templar
DT survive with 2 health.
-7 lurkers 1 shot:
Zealot survives with 15 health. Adepts with 4 health.
-8 Lurkers 1 shot:
-8 Lurkers 2 shot:
- Archon survives with 40 health.
What this means is that, basically, 8 Lurkers counter every single Protoss ground unit. And it gets worse with upgrades.
They will one shot every single gateway unit, two shot immortals and Colossus, and even though Archons survive with 40 health, due to the short range of the Archon (3) it means lurkers can hit them twice before the archon actually gets to them, making them only able to hit them once before dying. Furthermore, Lurkers deal full damage to all units hit by it, compared to Siege tanks where only the units in the middle, oftentimes only one, receive the full damage, with units farther away receiving 50% or 25% depending on the distance. This means Lurkers can wipe a whole Protoss army in 1-2 shots if they manage to hit it all at once (this will be relevant later on).
Add to that the fact lurkers will not be alone, and roach/hydra/ling/bane will also deal damage, a Protoss Ground army can completely disappear in the 1.43 seconds it takes for Lurkers to deal 2 shots.
Even though most of the time they aren't engaging the full army, they end up working like busted liberatiors where they both kill units instantly in their atack range, except that the lurker deals damage to multiple units.
This sounds absolutely broken, but surely there must be counterplay right? That's right, let's look at what its strengths and weaknesses are.
- Very high splash damage siege unit.
- Long Range.
- Area Control.
- Good against clumps of units.
- Good at defense.
- Invisible without detection.
- Can't attack air.
- Need to burrow to attack which limits its mobility.
- Vulnerable while Burrowing.
- Can't move while burrowed, which limits its attack range so you need to position them correctly and the enemy can move to avoid them.
That means there are three ways to beat them:
2.-Out maneuver them by attacking far away places, abusing their lack of mobility, and getting out before they get there or killing them as they are positioning and burrowing.
3.-Go around them and not fight the area they are defending, trying to hit the location you are targeting using a different path or angle outside of their range.
The first one is self explanatory and works as well as you would think. But here is where the problems start.
Lurkers are supposed to be imobile units and yet Blizzard gave them a base speed of 4.13 (5.37 on creep). This means the Luker is the third fastest ground zerg unit, after the Zergling and Speed Roach, and it's faster than the fastest Protoss Ground unit (Speedlot 4.73). This negates its second weakness as the unit is so fast that by the time your High Templars (2.62) or your Immortals and disruptors (3.15) get anywhere, the Lurkers have been there for a while.
And it gets worse. Blizzard, for some reason I don't understand, gave the lurkers two upgrades: Range increase +2, and Burrow speed buff from 2 to 0.7 seconds. This completely negates its two other weaknesses.
1.-The Lurker is so fast you cannot attack any of the zerg bases without the lurker being there. (You cannot out mannouver them).
2.-While the lurker is vulnerable while burrowing, the upgrade makes it basically instant, and alongside its speed it guarantees the lurker is always in position.
3.-The Range increase negates attacking from different angles in current maps, as even bases with two entrances or ramps can be covered by the lurkers if they are set up between them. Even if they are out of position they can instantly reposition with the burrow upgrade.
4.-The Range upgrade outranges Psi Storm, which means 6 lurkers can insta kill HT before they even cast one if you target them. It also has the same range as Disruptors.
These upgrades are the equivalent of saying "The High Templar has 3 weaknesses, it's fragile, it's slow and it starts with no energy. Let's give him two upgrades so that it becomes as fast as a Speedlot and starts with enough energy to cast storms instantly". One of those upgrades existed in the game once, we all know how ridiculous it was, so why do these Lurker upgrades that negate 3 of their four weaknesses exist?
It is no wonder then that Protoss goes air. It's literally the only type of unit Protoss has that doesn't die in less than 2 seconds to 8 lurkers. And as all Zerg and Protoss players know, 8 Lurkers are very easy to make. It's not uncommon for games to have double that amount. Air is literally the only way to beat lurkers. The insta burrow also allows Zerg players to walk their lurkers on top of the enemy army, burrow on top of them and kill it instantly. Disruptors are able to stop the zerg from doing that and buy you some time, but since it takes two disruptor shots to kill a lurker, and Vipers come into play, the only long term solution is having mass air and HT Archon. (Archon to tank for more than a second, HT to storm units and feedback vipers, Carrier to kill the lurkers).
Zergs complain about Air Toss in PvZ, but without it there is no way for Protoss to win. That's the reason Pros kept (and keep) to this day using the shitty Adept all-in build. It doesn't work as well anymore, but it's one of the few all-ins that still work sometimes after all others were nerfed into the ground, and enable them to be slightly less predictable and not go air all games. Crucial in a Best-of-series.
This results in Protoss Air being slightly too strong, and the two races being frustrated. While PvZ has deeper issues in terms of design, I believe the game can be much better with a simple nerf to the lurker, and either a Zerg Buff or a Protoss Air Nerf to compensate.
I want to hear your thoughts about it, even if a blizzard won't really do anything. Do you agree the Lurker is too strong? How would you approach “fixing” ZvP so the Lurker and the Protoss Air weren't as oppressive? Leave down a comment below!
The following is how I’d approach it. In a perfect world, where Blizzard still patches the game, these would be my realistic balance changes:
- Remove Luker Upgrades.
The Lurker is way too useful. It's great at defending harass (just burrow one near a hatchery), it's great at defending pushes and delaying them, which buys time for zerg to produce more units (underated side effect), it's great at sieging, and in basically every situation. The upgrades make them even better and they don't need them at all. Removing them, and maybe nerfing it's movement speed, would help Protoss have some ground counterplay for them.
- Make Lurker deal full damage to the first uni or two it hits, but reduce damage to the rest of the units. (Like the Siege Tank).
- Reduce Lurker Movement Speed.
- Increase Lurker supply by 1.
I think reducing its speed or changing the way its splash work would help open up more possibilities for ground armies to counter the Lurker. Even though in a direct engagement Lurkers would still beat the Protoss Ground Army, this would at least enable the protoss to out maneuver them or use disruptors and templars a little more effectively.
- Remove Pathogen Glands. Infestors now start with the upgrade.
This would help Zerg Players Deal with Sky Toss and Void Rays better, as Infestors would come into play earlier and not have to use resources for the energy upgrade. Fungal is a good counter to Void Rays. I pick this instead of nerfing VoidRay speed as before that buff VR were useless, and it's good protoss has one unit that can give them some map control.
Since this would promote infestor plays, maybe more Zergs would discover Fungal is incredibly strong against carriers, as Interceptors need to move to deal damage and have only 2 range. Which means that it's the only unit in the game that fungal not only slows, but makes it actually unable to atack at all, making it a good counter to carriers. Alongside Neural Parasite, corruptors or Vipers Air Damage ability this would be an effective counter.
See: Zombie Grub video with just 600 visits:
These are just my thoughts, but please feel free to suggest different changes or give your opinion in the comments.