Playtest 229: Capture Zones 3: The Recapturing!

TreiskTreisk Member, Administrator
edited July 23 in Patch Notes

Playtest 229: Capture Zones 3: The Recapturing!

General Gameplay

In this build, we'll be experimenting with an old mechanic, Capture Zones! We're trying this mechanic in lieu of Gem Regions to see how the game feels with a much simpler, easier-to-understand contention mechanic. We've frequently gotten feedback (especially from newer players) that Gem Regions had a lot of facets that made it hard to understand how it all worked. Please focus your feedback heavily on this set of mechanics!


  • Gem Regions have been replaced by Capture Zones!

    • Capture Zones will gradually progress as long as your Hero is standing on it. Fully capturing it takes 1 minute, and capturing it summons a Titan!
    • For every 3 seconds your Hero is capturing the Zone, you will split 10 Bioshards and 1 EXP among all other friendly Heroes on the zone.
    • If Heroes on opposing teams are on the Zone (regardless of how many), the Zone is contested and will not progress
    • Capture Zones respawn 4 minutes after summoning the Titan
    • The first Capture Zones will spawn at the 1:00 mark
    • If neither team has not made capture progress in 10 seconds, each team's progress will slowly decay at a rate of 1 second worth of progress per 3 seconds.



  • Hydros

    • Healing Waters

      • Healing: 70 ⇒ 75
  • Scuttleguard

    • Context: The intent of this change is simply to increase the EHP of Scuttleguards (the intent of the upgrade) while not making purchased Physical Resist and Magical Resist upgrades less effective. We'll likely continue tweaking these values.
    • Calcified Shell (Upgrade)

      • Bonus health: 10 + 2 per Hero Level ⇒ 15 + 3 per Hero Level
      • No longer grants Physical Resist or Magical Resist


  • Ignite effects

    • Duration: 10 seconds ⇒ 6 seconds
  • Vex

    • Context: Vex has been an early-game powerhouse for a while now, to the extent that Celesta's Wisps, Eris's Sandstingers, and Vela's Raptors were very difficult to make work. By not making Scorch such a perfect answer-all in the early game, we hope to see these three heroes get a slight bump. This also serves as a slight nerf to Spitfires (as they'll have less Ignite uptime), and we'll be keeping an eye on how this affects them as well.
    • Scorch

      • Impact Damage: 25 ⇒ 20
      • Cooldown: 10 seconds ⇒ 12 seconds
      • Impact Radius: 1.5 ⇒ 1.3
      • Cooldown Reduction per Level: 0.25 seconds ⇒ 0.3 seconds
      • No longer extends the duration of Ignite


  • Conduit

    • Drill Laser

      • Range: 20 ⇒ 24
      • Updated ability tooltip to include channel duration


  • Chiller

    • Movement Slow: 70% ⇒ 60%
    • Energy Cost: 5 ⇒ 7
    • Health: 400 ⇒ 350


  • Zone Plates

    (1.1) - It was interesting to see the zone plates after all the intervening changes since they were in the game. Area denial units felt understandably strong given their ability to restrict access to the plates. I also felt like it was more "expensive" than before, given the work of actively rebuilding units as compared to just having respawn timers.

    (1.2) - Separately, just looking at how it feels now relative to the current game state, I felt like there was a lot more activity involved in capturing zone plates than gemming. This is cool. It seemed like in most cases, a zone was always going to be contested, and with the plate, contesting means fighting much more than micro-intensive movement to capture gems. This means figuring out the matchup you're going to face is much more prominent in the game. This seems like a cool element. I can almost imagine a case where one could find advantages from everyone on the team splitting off control groups to each plate, and building up cross-unit compositions.


    (2.1) - Hydros felt super tanky today, probably due to the upgrade and healing buff. Stalling opponents and micro to split up engagements both seemed a natural part of his kit.

  • wondiblewondible Member

    Heros can get path-pushed off of capture zones by misc unit movements, especially with bots wandering around. This is more fragile than before; in the previous version if you were a little off-center, you'd still be able to gather one side.

    Much better capture transparency. The minimap info on hidden wells is especially different - you've usually got an idea if an area is occupied, although you still don't know whether it's a hero or an army.

    Areas generally seemed to make for more focused 3-army fights, focused around heroes. I saw more separating of hero and army than I had noticed before.

    Still a noticeable snowball effect - you're either killing titan after titan, or capturing titans while the other team deals with the last one. I'll have be on the lookout if there is ever a turnaround from this situation.

    Alchemists are crazy good at soloing camps.

    Generally I was playing T1 upgrade-heavy, which seemed to do at least as well as when I was more liberal with advanced units - of course I tend to lose units a lot, and you never have to replace upgrades, so it cuts down on resource recovery grinding.

  • tedstertedster Member

    The size of the capture zone feels like it favors tanky melee heroes an inordinate amount. I am not sure how to stop Grath or Hydros from capping Titans early game and then rolling to other lanes to repeat. I would love to see a slightly larger capture zone, it feels very small.

    Snowballing feels much more extreme in this patch. The 6 games I've played got out of hand by the second Titan spawn and it feels harder than it ever was in the past to come back from a defeat at around the 2nd Titan mark.

    If you fall a little bit behind the new Titan mechanic almost demands a big teamfight which you are disadvantaged in, so splitting up the enemy to try to squeeze out a Titan feels harder than before. I don't enjoy how strong momentum feels as a result so far.

  • tedstertedster Member
    edited July 25
    • More testing - 9 or so games. This mechanic tries to do some interesting things but I dislike it as the means of capping Titans. It seems to drastically favor big stally tank-balls that have no intention of winning fights - just getting there fast and wasting time until they cap.
    • This does make siege better - so that's a plus! But it makes building an army to win fights much worse.
    • It feels like winning fights barely matters - something most of the people I've tested with and against have confirmed. It's also very confusing - many games my team has won every major fight and lost the game very badly. We weren't even fighting out of position! We were at the point, fighting over it, but we just didn't have an army designed to sit on top of a capture point tanking lots of damage, so we couldn't take ANY contested Titans.
    • Army battles feel bad to me because wiping out the enemy force doesn't necessarily help you win, and the best armies seem like those designed to stall rather than win, due to how capping works.
    • It also sets up a dynamic where you get stuck in your base very early, and are just chasing around titan-capping enemies at a MUCH earlier time than previous builds. Usually when you reach this point you are going to lose the game - it's now happening about 10 minutes earlier than before, sometimes as soon as the second Titan spawn. This feels very bad because it feels like only the first 1-2 Titan fights matter.
    • Snowballing feels increasingly severe. As a result, playing from even slightly behind makes me feel like I'm wasting my time as I spend most of the game chasing around the opponent, unable to dislodge them from the Titan spawn. Even if I kill their army it rarely seems to change the status of the match since there is always a Titan wrecking my base and they will thus be able to set up a cheap tank ball on the next Titan before my team can.
  • MilleaMillea Member

    First of all, you guys need to fix the bug where you get 0 shards past the first time you capture a point. This is probably required before a completely accurate analysis by anyone.

    However I have something to say.

    i really liked gems a lot better.

    In laning, you have two choices at any given point now, to contest or to not contest. In order to contest, you need to be within the circle, which forces you to not only fight your opponent, but full on ENGAGE them in battle. This makes "poke wars", which I thought were an interesting part of laning with gems, not happen. Also, once an engage is lost, this makes catching up MUCH more difficult.

    Here's a replay that I think exemplifies the problems I have with zones.


    First of all, I think that taking a camp before laning is the right thing, but you NEED your hero in lane at the 1 min mark. People probably aren't used to this yet.

    Take a look at top lane, since I'm there.

    Alder is completely unable to do anything to even slow down my capture in the early game due to needing to send his hero to melee range of my troops in order to contest. With gems, you can do things like make your opponent choose between killing gems and your army, or snipe enemy gems to slow down the enemy capture when behind.

    The fight at 3:30 must have been extraordinarily frustrating for the other team, as the enemy team essentially had control of the point, but since i forced their hero out, I got the titan.

    Anyways, the laning phase isn't the only place I'm concerned about. Let's talk about later stages. Go to 18:00 for the bot titan fight. Notice how my team COMPLETELY lost that fight by far. However, we got the titan, so it was worth it because the fight lasted long enough! In previous builds the enemy team would have most likely been sniping gems, but in this build I could just stand on the point and delay with my army.

    Look at the fight right before 30 minutes. Since capturing takes a flat 80 seconds rather than 100 seconds + 5 seconds for every gem sniped, it adds up to a delay fight. The fight goes on for a very long time, and we didn't fight it because we'd win the fight, but because we needed to make the titan spawn. In previous patches, we'd need to protect the gems from being killed. In this patch, we just need to prevent their heroes from getting to the titan spawn, which is actually even easier than it sounds because if you kill their heroes on the way, you remove their chance of contesting. They can do that or they can try to snipe high hp units at the back of the enemy army (Heroes), which is also difficult.

    Essentially, you want to delay as long as possible until you get the titan. This wasn't as much a problem 2 patches ago where gems spawned across a long distance, and it was a small problem last patch, but it is now a huge problem.

    I do like the removal of the RNG. That's the main positive in my view about this patch. It was frustrating to lose a lane due to RNG. I'd like a return to gems, but somehow or another without RNG.


    Gems weren't perfect, but they were better than zones. The current implementation of zones forces hard engages, making poking, a fun part of laning, matter a lot less. In later stages, they change the focus of your army from winning the fight to delaying as long as possible for the titan to spawn. It doesn't matter if you've won a fight if you've lost the titan!

  • grybyxgrybyx Member

    Firstly I should note that I didn't play the last patch with shortened gems so I'm comparing it directly to the long timer/spread out gems.

    First thing I noticed is you can't deny resources by killing camp gems or titan gems I really liked that mechanic.

    Second thing I noticed is the titans summon very quickly you have to drop everything to go to them immediately or you lose the titan you also have to make a choice between defending against a titan or fighting for another titan either way your significantly behind either the other team gets two or more titans or you surrender a large section of your base since the last titan can summoned is the only one that can be defended without conceding the other titans. it creates an awful snowball effect that makes comebacks even more difficult than in previous patches. Previously you could poke down the gems and stall the titan even if you were behind as long as you could position well now it just matters who has the best head to head army which is a huge issue for heroes whose tier 1 is weak in head to head engagements.

    There was a dead period in every game that I played between when the first titans spawned and the medium camps spawned this led to me standing in base with no objectives to take and no reason to move around the map. Previously you could usually go straight from the final titan in the first wave to medium camps without any dead time. this also occurred later in the game after each time the titans spawned it just felt like a dead period.

    Zone control units felt broken granted I didn't get to play as many games as i wanted to but there is a large number of units in the game with abilities that are basically if you are standing in this spot when the ability hits your units will die i.e. apocs/trebs which poses a big issue when the game becomes who can stand in a predetermined spot the longest.

    The late game armies always felt way smaller due to the constant engagements and trading which felt nice one of the previous issues was that if you needed to produce scrap/stock in order to replace an army you often fell even farther behind due to the other team raising their supply cap instead of rebuilding with the constant trades and smaller armies this is no longer a factor.

    I would like to see this idea played out with longer spawn times for titans or some sort of tug-of-war system with the titan creation where when one team pushes the other team off of the zone they reduce the other teams progress before starting their own progress. the longer time span would allow the ranged classes more time to poke down the opposing army before engaging.
    I also wouldn't mind seeing staggered start times for the titans one of the biggest differences in the flow of the game IMO was when one titan spawned and the other titans continuously had their gems sniped so no one could cap which offset when the second/third wave of titans would spawn so you didn't immediately jump from one titan point to the next. in this version their is no real denying or stalling out at titan points so it creates a system where the titans are always spawned one right after the other.

  • tedstertedster Member

    Incidentally the current titan cap/shard bug should make snowballing even worse when fixed. I'm kind of glad the bug was in place for yesterday's playtest because the games felt frustrating enough with snowballing as bad as it was alongside the stall-based fights :)

  • TokOwaTokOwa Member
    edited July 25

    Playtest 229: The Recapturing

    One of the major changes that the patch brought forth was increasing the threshold in which a point is actually contested. This is primarily an issue with tank heroes, but can also extend to any deck as the game goes on. By actually contested, I mean the point where opponents progress is delayed or slowed. For example, it is no longer enough to assume a position in the vicinity of the gem region. I either have to place my hero on the point itself, and\or completely destroy the opponent’s army. This has several consequences.

    • Less strategic options: The way Ranged DPS works against Tanks is that to actually achieve one of the two methods of contesting the point, you have to have an overwhelming amount of units, in order to trade efficiently and actually have enough units to kill the enemy hero. So for a lot of people, their impact will be severely lowered. In the previous iteration, Ranged DPS would be able to contest the point at a lower threshold, basically, there was a greater range in which a power discrepancy could lead to a contest point. Right now, we could shave off units from the opponents, and it would have very little impact on the capture times of the titans.

    • Diminished Ability to Carry Games: While this is not at all to say that the wins are not deserved, not at all. My perspective of this also seen from playing Ranged DPS heroes, and the opposite might end up being true for the Tank heroes. What used to happen was that after securing a Titan, or conceding its capture, a good player would be able to head to another lane and the lane would almost automatically be contested. Even when the same scenario occurs, a tank is using his units to zone out the enemy, while the hero actually capturing gems, the point where the ranged DPS is capable of delaying or stopping the capture by sniping gems is a lot earlier than how it is in the current patch. In a game where there is large range of player skills, having the ability to draw out the titan capturing helped mitigate strategic errors. Right now, strategic errors will lead to losing the titans and you end up fighting Titans for a majority of the game. The ability of good players to create time and space for newer players was a really good thing about Atlas.

    One of the benefits about the titanfight iteration was that destroying units would directly impact the opponent’s capturing speed. Similarly, in gem collecting, destroying units would give you space which would allow you to delay the capturing. Anyway, I think that’s the crux of the issue in this patch: Contesting Threshold.

  • wondiblewondible Member

    I actually enjoyed the "down time" because I was able to go poke a tower and directly engage with a minor objective instead of waiting for the game systems to do it for me.

  • FoambornFoamborn Member

    I really like gems. I like the idea of capture points and alternate game modes. I think capture points as a mode needs more tweaking to be playable. Like others here have said, certain heros/compositions are very strong in this mode. I think a few changes need to happen in order to have games that are not so one sided.

    I think the capture point should be huge. I think any units on it should be able to contest, but only heroes should be able to capture. It should be big enough so that ranged units can contest the point while posturing a threat. Denying time should be easier than it is. We would often finish capturing points with one or two minutes left until medium camps spawned and one team being massively ahead.

    Contesting a point should give rewards. You can sacrifice everything as an attacker and gain nothing while the defensive player sits pretty. Maybe make a change so that the resources are split between heroes on the point, no matter which team they are on.

    I think these kinds of changes would help lessen the snowballiness of the mode. Another change I would consider would be messing around with camp spawn times. For example, a team that is losing capture points could have the option to get earlier respawn timers of the medium camps in their base. Although, like increasing the capture time of points, I think this would be another patchwork fix. The real issue is the lack of contesting, and I'm sure the margin by which a team would be ahead would be much smaller if it was easier to do so.

    Spawn times in general do feel strange though. Points would cycle between locked and unlocked one at a time and we would often just ignore camps outright. This lets you do silly things like roam with Toxin Alchemists killing enemy medium camps (especially since the hero can sit on their capture point ivory tower now that they don't have to be present to capture the gems).

    I think a mode where the lock/unlock time was limited would be interesting to test. Players could deny a titan spawn by stalling long enough and letting the point lock. Attention could then turn to camps briefly. I wouldn't want it to be so polar... jungle/point/jungle/point etc. but I think retaining capture time along with titan scaling on successive captures would make for some tense/interesting engagements. Having a lock timer would also encourage a scenario where one team threatens to capture two titans in response to the other team trying to capture one.

    So in short more counterplay/denying is necessary to make this mode feel better. I love capture points in other games. I think that with some changes this mode could be very fun to play.

  • SpideyCUSpideyCU Member

    Huge disclaimer: I wasn't around to play on the official playtest on Sunday, my feedback is from spot games prior.

    The inherent randomness of gems has some pros/cons, but it seems like the (current) best option of a middle-ground. Titan-fights made DPS squads more prominent while zone capturing seemed to do the same for tanky squads. The latter also made hero sniping more important, which isn't good/bad necessarily, but it DOES feel frustrating to have a sizeable army at a location and be unable to contribute to capturing. I may not be thinking outside of the box but it never felt like "Well fine, if you want to hold that, then I'll go do something else!" was a decent option. Sure, you could chip away at the base or kill some creeps but the threat of the Jugg always seemed to outweigh whatever else you'd be doing.

    Fighting over gem ground made me feel a bit more active and less like I had to employ "cheap" tactics. Oh, and I totally think that any invis/invuln heroes should not be able to make the bar progress on capture zones (apologies if this changed for Sunday's playtest).

    This may sound crazy but given the difference in execution for generating titans between the three types you've had, I wouldn't mind it being random. This way you'd have a cool "hey, capture zone up here, I'm a good tank, I'll take that! You high-DPS person, take that titan fight down there!".

    Other topic: I do miss being able to deny my opponents some value with the crystal left behind from creep camps. Just killing creeps for immediate reward didn't seem to hold as much pizzazz for me.

  • The titan timing changes this week really highlight the problems with the current system for spawning Titans. Capturing one titan gives a team breathing room to capture more while their opponents defend. Very quickly one team finds themselves perpetually on defense while the other team gets continues to capture titans and farms camps to increase their lead.

    I think zones have a lot of promise, but clearly ask for a lot of unit rebalancing. There are some contradictory opinions in the posts above about whether the change promotes more all-in fights or more stalling and poking. I saw a mixture of both behaviors and generally preferred the dynamics of these engagements to gems, at least when playing as Alder. I also played with Eris, who is by design is really unsuited for standing on a point.

    In light of these issues, I would suggest changing the titan system so that all the points contribute to the summoning of a single titan. The idea is to avoid the snowballing situation I described above or the HotS Haunted Mines situation where teams just defend against the other's golem instead of pushing with their own.

    For heroes unsuited for zone capture, hopefully there could be opportunities for alternative activities like split-pushing and invading the enemy jungle during both the zoning and push/defense phases. Right now the map is pretty small and the camps are close to the capture zones, which makes these activities difficult / secondary to capturing titans.

  • tedstertedster Member

    @Deaucalion said:
    The titan timing changes this week really highlight the problems with the current system for spawning Titans. Capturing one titan gives a team breathing room to capture more while their opponents defend. Very quickly one team finds themselves perpetually on defense while the other team gets continues to capture titans and farms camps to increase their lead.

    I like this point a lot. I don't think capture zones are intrinsically bad (I think they're a little too small but that's unrelated). I think the problem might be with the Titan mechanics themselves and how they require no support but do require 2-3 armies to clean up, and take so long to kill that the other team can often send wave after wave of Titans without interaction or worry once they spawn the first (while getting all the camps)

    I made a big post after reading this since it confirmed a lot of thoughts I had and played off some ideas Millea and I were bouncing around:

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