With the announcement of Warcraft III: Reforged, players around the world are very excited about the game. Our friends at Wanuxi have an interview with Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen to talk about the current META in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. In this piece of interview, Grubby will be sharing a lot of insights and match-up comparisons for the game.
*The interview is done as of patch 1.30
*NE – Night Elf, UD – Undead, HUM- Human, ORC – Orc
Can you give us a short introduction of yourself?
Hi guys and girls, my name is Manuel Schenkhuizen a.k.a. Grubby and I am a former professional gamer in WarCraft III and StarCraft II. I transitioned to becoming a full-time streamer and content producer on Twitch and YouTube and I have worked part-time as a commentator. I live in the Netherlands with my wife and golden retriever.
So far on patch 1.30 WC3TFT, in your opinion what is the strongest race (for 1v1)?
After 1.29 and 1.30 patches, Night Elf received about 13 buffs to early game and their main strategy.
- +1 intelligence to Keeper
- 125 -> 100 mana to Force of Nature on Keeper
- +2s duration on Entangle to Keeper
- 2x healing speed on Tranquility, half duration, 3s inv on Tranquility on Keeper
- Increase Huntress damage +1
- Increase Archer HP
- Glaive +39% damage
- Increase Moonwell mana regeneration
- Increase Ancient Protector attack speed
- Increase PotM attack damage
- Increase Alchemist Acidbomb Damage, increase Alchemist Transmute gold gain
- Huntress Sentinel vision research by default
- Huntress Glaive damage upgrade at Tier 2
Especially points 1, 2, 3, 7 and 11 are proving very strong and restrict other races’ play style and ability to be on the map. Because of this, Night Elf starts every game with a virtually safe Tree of Life that is built before or after the 1st unit, and can either mass units and win off that, or tech and get Alchemist to heal hurt Huntresses. I am hoping for a balance patch soon (writing this as of 28 November 2018).
After Night Elf’s domination, ORC & UD kind of share 2nd place in my opinion. ORC is better vs UD & ORC, but UD does better vs HUM & NE. So they both have two good match-ups. HUM does alright vs ORC, but struggles against Keeper mass T1 and its transition to Mountain Giants, and UD is still powerful vs HUM, especially after T1 expansion from HUM is nerfed a bit, and Defend upgrade is nerfed because of Quality of Life fix. However, Riflemen are stronger, so Rifle Casters are back in all match-ups. This is nice, because it’s a very fun strategy to watch, play, and play against.
In one of your videos, you actually mentioned that UD is currently the weakest race, can you elaborate more on that?
Actually at this time I think HUM is weakest, but it’s also possible that I think so because Europe has very few strong HUM players. Probably if I played against TH000, Infi, Romantic or one of those guys, I may have a different feeling. Actually, I play every race these days, so I would learn more HUM from watching them play, haha.
Recently we see Alchemist being picked more frequently, why is he being picked so often compared to other neutral heroes?
There are many reasons for this. In 1.28, Alchemist was mostly only picked in the meta for Acid Bomb’s passive effect. You’d see him in ORC vs HUM on Melting Valley as a 3rd Hero after both players secured at least one expansion. HUM would be playing Mountain King + Paladin and mass Air, and ORC would be playing Blademaster + Shadow Hunter, a few ground units and mass Batriders. Alchemist would help the Batriders to inflict more damage on the Gryphons and Dragonhawks. The second ability would be Chemical Rage.
In 1.29, Healing Spray no longer heals enemy units, so it’s safer to use it in mid-fight. Additionally, Acid Bomb’s damage was buffed. It is incredible that Acid Bomb, in addition to its armor debuff effect and its splash damage, even has more single-target damage than Storm Bolt. A lot of players on the ladder are getting used to Alchemist’s strength and misusing his ability by simply throwing Acid Bomb on single targets. I’ll split my Grunt away and easily dodge the AOE, but the damage of Acid Bomb is still significant. For only 75 mana, it should not deal 125 damage and have such strong additional bonus effects.
Finally, Alchemist is the only Tavern Hero that heals. As such, he fills a very important role. Especially now that HUM is looking for 2nd Heroes that can help heal their Rifle Caster army, Alchemist does a better job than Paladin in healing, and he sometimes deals more damage than Mountain King – although Thunderclap is still good and unique.
Can you tell us the pro and cons of getting 1 hero vs 2 heroes vs getting 3 heroes?
When you go for technical units that rely on a critical mass to be effective, going for 1 Hero can be a good solution. For example, if you have 8 Bat Riders against 8 Dragonhawks, you have a good chance of losing the fight hard, if all Bats get disabled by Hawks. Or, you can win the fight, if all Bats explode on the Hawks. However, if you have 10 Bats against 8 Hawks, you’ll win the engagement every time, because each Bat frees another and you get consecutive explosions. If you only have Gold and Food availability to get 10 Bats by going just 1 Hero, then 1 Hero is the correct choice.
The same comparison can be made by Wind Riders. Wind Riders, as a fragile but high damage unit, rely on quickly hit & running. Certain amount of Wind Riders will 1-shot an enemy unit, so you want to make sure to overwhelm an opponent as fast as possible when using Wind Riders. That’s why sometimes you’ll want to play 1-hero when doing Wind Riders. Because 1 Hero will lack inventory items, you’ll sell more items which you find. This is perfect, anyway, because massing quick Wind Riders requires a lot of gold. It’s important to never stop producing, once you start, because Wind Riders have such obvious counters. You don’t have a lot of time.
In most other (non-air) strategies, going a minimum of two Heroes is advisable. As Orc, you generally only get 3 Heroes when Tier 3 holds a necessary technology, such as Lightning Orb vs Undead, or Taurens vs mass Mountain Giants. You’d also prefer to get 3rd Hero on bigger maps. Because on Echo Isles, it will be hard to even train up the 3rd Hero to level 2.
For Undead, you always get 3 Heroes, almost no exceptions.
For Night Elf, 3 Heroes are important when going mass Druids of the Talon, because you need more tanking Heroes to protect the Talons. Night elf will also need 3 Heroes to counter Siege Engines, by getting Panda 3rd with Breath of Fire.
For Human, 3 Heroes are incredibly powerful, they should like to pick up a Paladin 3rd any chance they get, but it only happens when T3 is reached naturally. Oftentimes Human will be losing or winning before T3.
For new players which race will be easier for them to pick up to learn the game?
The easiest race in 1.30.2 is Night Elf, playing with Keeper of the Grove, 2 Ancient of War Huntresses and switch into Archers when necessary. Taking an early expansion and simultaneously pressuring an opponent. Switch to Glaive Throwers if the opponent turtles up and defends only in their own base, or if they make Unarmored units (Caster Units, Dryads, Huntresses). T2 upgrade for Glaive Throwers is very important, it makes it so that they never miss. I think this upgrade is bugged?
The second easiest race is Orc. Blademaster has a lot of natural strength, try to find some good + stat items on him. Farseer is also strong, and allows for easier scouting with Wolves and the Wolves also give bonus army size.
The hardest is probably UD, there is a lot of necessary knowledge as UD strategy entirely revolves around timings, and countering an opponent. Without the knowledge that an experienced player possesses, UD players will feel like their army and Heroes are simply less effective than opponents. They are probably best off playing strategies revolving around Necromancers and Wagons. This is an easy and slow strategy that holds a lot of power, and best of all, once you are ready to fight, auto-cast will summon legions of armies that the player simply has to attack the enemy with.
For WC3:R, do you think it is better for Blizzard to revamp or enhance unit controls (like getting more than 12 units in 1 squad, or heroes abilities are binded to QWER), or keeping it just like the originals? What kind of changes you are hoping to see (if there are any)?
- On 12-units Control Groups
Although as a professional player, I do not need more units per group than 12, I believe if we want to attract and maintain a larger player base (and I do want that), going up to 14, 16 or 18 units per group is a nice concession to make. It will provide easier control for beginning players. Although I think unlimited control groups in custom maps is okay, to have it in multiplayer melee would be a mistake, because of three reasons.
- It dumbs down unit control just a bit too much. Too many players will learn the wrong way, to put all units & Heroes in 1 group and leave it at that. Although I will have already learnt “the best way”, to split army across 3 groups based on range or damage type, I might’ve learnt the wrong way if unlimited control was an option. For example, in SC2, too many players used 1-group control and All-Army Hotkey (F2 or F8) to move around the map. You could correctly argue that better players will still learn to split, but the temptation to make it easy for yourself is just very real.
- The UI cannot accommodate infinite units. So Blizzard would have to create a paging system like in SC2. This is slow and unintuitive to use. It could be possible to have an army of Shamans and Witch Doctors in 1 group, and have not a single Witch Doctor show up on “Page 1” of the UI. You’d have to click a small Page , and then see the Doctors’ health. I think this is not nice.
- It diverges too far from the spirit of Warcraft III’s original roots. Small concessions, instead of huge ones, is better to maintain the feel of the game.
This is already permitted through customkeys.txt though it is hard and takes long to set up. New Hotkey system will be in-client, and probably allow for QWER easily by importing settings or maybe a default function.
Which 1v1 map is your favourite and why?
I like Twisted Meadows, the map holds a lot of opportunities because it is big. I like long and unpredictable games.
Do you have any advice to the players who wanted to play this game competitively?
Now is a great time to start playing. With the promise of Reforged coming in 2019, pick up WC3 now and play through the wonderful Campaign missions from Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne. Experience the storyline that leads into World of Warcraft, how Arthas got corrupted and why Illidan was set free. There are going to be a lot more ladder players on Battle.net before and after Reforged launches, so sinking one’s teeth into the Multiplayer Melee experience is going to be challenging and a fun journey of self-improvement. The custom maps scene for WC3 has always been amazing, so if you are looking to just have plain fun, custom maps will be a nice relaxing change.
To learn more about the game, check out the overexplain section on my YouTube channel: Grubby’s YouTube Overexplain games. I’ve also added Base Layout Tutorials for every race, and will be uploading more guides for beginning WC3 players, so check out http://youtube.com/followgrubby or come say hi on http://twitch.tv/followgrubby.
Any words for Malaysian fans?
I feel a great connection with Malaysia. We’ve been to Malaysia a few times for holidays. It truly is a beautiful country, and the people are generally kind and hospitable. My father comes from Indonesia, so I recognize the food and language everywhere. It feels great to be there. My wife and I also got married in Malaysia, because it is so special to us. Please come say hi some time in my Twitch channel, I’d like to meet fans from Malaysia ^^
If you are ready for Warcraft III: Reforged, you can pre-purchase the game now on their official website.
*Feature image credits to http://s.163.com.