raynors raiders

HotS: Raynor Rework

This is a followup post to the review that I did on Raynor in Heroes of the Storm. I suggest you read the review before reading this rework because I will be referencing and addressing the problems that I have previously discussed in the review itself.

The goal of this rework is threefold:

  1. To make Raynor more interactive
  2. To diversify Raynor’s build options to increase variety
  3. To make Raynor’s portrayal in Heroes more accurate to his portrayal in Starcraft

To start, we’ll go over the changes I’d make to his core design.

Q: PENETRATING ROUND

  • Increase Base Damage from 240 to 260.
  • Remove the Knockback Effect.
  • Reduce Cooldown from 12 seconds to 10 seconds.
  • Reduce Mana cost from 60 to 40.

W: INSPIRE

  • Talents overhauled.

E: ADRENALINE RUSH

  • Replaced by “Raynor’s Raiders”:

RAYNOR’S RAIDERS - 60 Mana, 45 Second Cooldown

Call in reinforcements, replacing any lost Raiders.

Passive: Raynor is accompanied by two Marines.

TRAIT: ADVANCED OPTICS

  • Replaced by “Formation”:

FORMATION (Modal)

RALLY FORMATION: Raiders follow Raynor closely, mimicking his movements and actions.

ASSAULT FORMATION: Raiders spread out and will attack nearby enemies automatically. Raiders will pursue targets they have recently attacked.

HEROIC 1: HYPERION

  • No changes.

HEROIC 2: RAYNOR’S RAIDERS

  • Replaced by “Commando Style”:

COMMANDO STYLE - 50 Mana, 50 Second Cooldown

Activate a Motion Sensor that reveals the location of enemies in a wide area for 5 seconds.

Passive: Increases the Attack Range and Attack Damage of Raynor and his Raiders by 20%.


REVIEWING THE REWORK

There’s a lot to go over, so I’ll cover each ability in turn.


PENETRATING ROUND

The changes to Penetrating Round are pretty straightforward – its biggest problem was that it had the knockback effect by default, making it very awkward to use and kind of a niche defensive ability as a result. Removing the knockback allows it to be used in a much more aggressive manner, opening up the opportunity for Raynor to do something other than Basic Attack constantly. To make up for the loss of crowd control, it gained a bit of damage and better sustain via a shorter cooldown and a lowered mana cost. For those who liked having the knockback effect on Penetrating Round, it can be re-obtained with a talent at Level 4.


INSPIRE

As I mentioned in the review, I actually like Inspire a lot. I don’t feel there needs to be any changes to Inspire itself, but I have made a lot of upgrades to its talent selection. Examples include upgrading Seasoned Marksman and Vigorous Assault into Inspire talents.


RAYNOR’S RAIDERS / FORMATION

Here’s the “big deal” portion of the rework, as Adrenaline Rush and Advanced Optics have been completely replaced by the addition of some battle buddies for Raynor. Before I get into the technical and gameplay stuff, I’m first going to talk about the characterization reasons that I did this.

As I pointed out in the review post, Raynor is a normal guy. He’s not Artanis, who has a cutscene in Legacy of the Void where he fights off a dozen Zerg with swords and then microwaves about a hundred more with psychic power. Raynor is also not Kerrigan, who has a cutscene in Heart of the Swarm where she ripped through tanks and combat walkers with ease when she invaded Augustgrad. However, Raynor is a leader, and by working with his men, he has been able to match (and overcome) both of those characters in warfare. In every single one of his appearances in the Starcraft series, he’s been supported by additional forces of some kind. Here are some examples:

In Starcraft’s first mission of the Terran campaign, “Wasteland”, literally the first time Jim Raynor ever appeared, he’s got dudes backing him up.

Here’s some red dudes he had with him in “Revolution” when he met Sarah Kerrigan for the first time.

What if he wants to be a Marine instead of riding around on a sweet jetbike during “Jakobs Installation”? He’s got even more dudes.

Time for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. First mission: “Liberation Day.” Raynor’s there and he’s got dudes.

“Piercing the Shroud.” Super secret special mission where Jimmy checks out a research station? Dudes.

“Belly of the Beast.” Jimmy and assorted Hero Dudes go cave crawling to kill big nasty worms with lava. Granted, they’re Hero units, but they’re still dudes.

The moral of the story is that Jimmy doesn’t go it alone (and also that “dudes” doesn’t sound like a word anymore).

So with the characterization reason out of the way, what’s up with gameplay? Well, Raynor needs mechanics unique to him, and having a group of guys that shadows his movements is pretty unique. By default, Raynor’s Raiders provides Raynor with two Marines that flank him as an escort. Through talents, a Medic, a Firebat, a Reaper, and a Marauder can also be added to the squad (and they’re shown in the example images to show where they stand in relation to Raynor when they’re added). The method by which they follow him is based on the state of his Trait, Formation. 

The mechanics of Rally Formation are pretty straightforward: the Raiders take up various positions around Raynor and mimic his actions directly, whether he’s moving or attacking. They also move to maintain their position relative to Raynor, so for example the Marines will always move to stand parallel to Raynor, the Firebat will always take up a forward position, and the Medic always brings up the rear. Not shown is how the Marauder and the Reaper act when solo - they take up a position immediately in front of Raynor if there’s only one of them, and then shift to standing in front of the Marines when both of them are present.

As an aside, Rally Formation automatically applies if Raynor uses his Mount, meaning that he cannot use the Raiders to “drive by” enemies with Assault Formation, nor can he abandon his dudes (because that wouldn’t be fitting for a compassionate leader).

Assault Formation spreads out the Raiders a bit more and gives them their own aggressive AI, attacking nearby enemies independently of Raynor. They will pursue their targets until destroyed, meaning that a clever player can cause the Raiders to fixate with Rally and then swap to Assault, causing the Raiders to pursue the target regardless of what Raynor does. Swapping back to Rally causes the Raiders to return to Raynor’s side, allowing the player to prevent them from dying if necessary.

Overall, being surrounded by battle buddies has distinct pros and cons. On the upside, it would make Raynor much stronger against characters that rely on non-piercing skillshots – using the Raiders to absorb Li Ming’s Arcane Orb or tank Stitches’ Hook could prevent getting picked off. However, characters with strong AOE abilities would be able to use the Raiders against Raynor. Kael’thas’s could easily use a Raider to transfer Living Bomb to Raynor, whereas Chromie’s Sand Blast would bypass the Raiders entirely because they’re Non-Heroic.

In terms of stats, I would put the Marines at 400 base Health and 16 damage per second, basing the other Raiders off of those values with adjustments as necessary. For reference of scale, Zagara’s Hydralisk produced by the Hunter Killer ability has about 500 base health, give or take, and deals 68 damage per second. The Raiders’ primary job is to be a skillshot shield, and the supplemental DPS is there to make up for the adjustments to Penetrating Round and the removal of Adrenaline Rush.


COMMANDO STYLE

Something you may have noticed in the screenshot of Raynor and his buddies in Belly of the Beast is that he’s got an enormous rifle instead of his usual Gauss. That is the HEV rifle, which appears twice: in that mission specifically, and in a cutscene prior to that mission where Raynor uses it to blast apart a Hydralisk.

I always thought it was a crying shame that it didn’t appear in Heroes of the Storm, even though Tychus got his Minigun, so my thought process was this:

  • Summoning two Banshees just doesn’t have the “wow” factor that calling in the Hyperion does.
  • Raynor has been shown to be able to get down and dirty with his forces, up to and including doing special operations deployments where he served as a commando among a strike force (Jakobs Installation, Piercing the Shroud, Belly of the Beast, ect), sometimes bringing along specialist units or equipment to do so.
  • Raynor’s Co-Op Commander loadout in Starcraft II states that Raynor favors an Infantry-heavy army.
  • Belly of the Beast is one of the penultimate mission options before All In. In Belly of the Beast, Raynor chooses to nullify the Zerg’s Nydus Network on Char, establishing better control of the ground. If the player had chosen the other mission “Shatter the Sky”, Raynor would destroy an orbital platform that would give the Terrans uncontested air superiority.

With all of this in mind, I figured that Raynor already had Hyperion as his air support, so why not make the other Heroic focused on establishing better ground control for some variety? This is where the Passive bonus to range and damage of Commando Style comes into play: Raynor pulls out the HEV Rifle and the Raiders get upgraded to Commando status.

I know I’ve talked a lot about how I’m unhappy with Raynor’s status as a hero who relies heavily on Basic Attacks, but I honestly don’t have a problem with a Basic Attack build in concept. Where I take issue is that Raynor practically ONLY has Basic Attacks, but with the changes I’m proposing that will no longer be the case. Therefore, I have no qualms with giving Raynor a Heroic that has a passive component of “be a better Basic Attacker” because that’s not going to be the best option to take by default anymore.

So those are the characterization/gameplay justifications for the passive component, but what about the active? Well, in Belly of the Beast (where the HEV Rifle appeared in a playable state), Raynor has an ability called Radar that makes him function similarly to a Terran Sensor Tower.

Radar detects the location of cloaked units or units hidden in the Fog of War, but it doesn’t reveal them entirely – with it, the player can tell that SOMETHING is there, but they cannot tell what specifically it is. I feel that an effect like this has enormous potential for Heroes, giving Raynor the ability to scout around himself in the event that the team is doing something risky like taking a boss or splitting up to take multiple objectives. Alternately, the player can use it as a soft counter to Stealth to help themselves pinpoint the location of a nearby invisible unit, allowing them to line up a more accurate Penetrating Round. There are a lot of potential uses for such an ability, and I feel that’s appropriate given Raynor’s status as a commander. 

The intended range of the Motion Sensor effect is roughly equal to that of Tassadar’s Oracle, perhaps a bit larger. Additionally, because it’s detecting the location of the unit rather than revealing it entirely, there would be no notification to enemies that they’re under the Motion Sensor effect. This would give it a bit of an advantage over Oracle’s complete reveal, as the enemy team would not be aware that they were being tracked - a mechanic that I feel is fair for an ability that’s supposed to be a Heroic.


TALENTS

Finally, the other half of the rework. My ultimate goal here was to provide Raynor players with a good variety of talents to choose from, more or less culminating in three distinct builds:

  • Precision Shooter: Takes most of the Penetrating Round talents to give the player a good source of Ability damage to back up their Basic Attacks.
  • Inspiring Jim: Takes most of the Inspire talents to provide Raynor with increased personal strength while making Raynor a better supporting character to allied Heroes.
  • Battle Buddies: Takes most of the Raynor’s Raiders talents to increase the strength of the Raiders, both as a defensive measure for Raynor under Rally Formation and as an independent squad under Assault Formation.

I’ll give a brief explanation for each talent tier to explain what my design goals were, in hopes that I managed to meet them.


LEVEL 1 (TIER 1)

Confident Aim [Quest]

Passive: If Penetrating Round hits an enemy Hero, its cooldown is reduced by 4 seconds.

Quest: Hit Heroes with Penetrating Round 20 times.

Reward: Increases Penetrating Round’s damage by 100.

Mercenary Munitions [Quest]

Repeatable Quest: When Raynor or his Raiders attack an enemy Hero, Raynor gains 0.1 Attack Damage.

Reward: Upon gaining 40 bonus Attack Damage, Inspire also increases Attack Damage by 20%.

First Aid [Quest]

Passive: Regeneration Globes affect Raynor’s Radiers.

Quest: Gather 20 Regeneration Globes.

Reward: A Medic is added to the squad, instantly healing Raynor or a Raider for 250 if they are reduced to 40% health or less while the Medic is alive. The Medic has 3 charges, and generates a charge every 30 seconds. Gathering a Regeneration Globe will restore a charge.

A recent trend in hero reworks is to make Tier 1 the “quest tier” and just jam it full of Quest Talents. Even though I tend to hate Quest Talents, the concept of the “quest tier” has grown on me over time, so I’m shamelessly implementing it here.

Confident Aim gives the player the ability to strengthen their Ability Damage output in the same vein that Valla and Falstad can.

Mercenary Munitions is Seasoned Marksman in a different pair of pants. 0.1 Attack Damage may not seem like much, but keep in mind that it also counts the attacks that the Raiders make, meaning that by default it’s roughly 0.3 Attack Damage per cycle when counting the Marines that come by default. The rate of Attack Damage gained can be increased by adding Raiders to the squad, giving Mercenary Munitions a flexible position. The Quest Reward that provides Attack Damage functions similarly to how Inspire’s Attack Speed bonus works - Raynor and his Raiders get the full bonus, whereas nearby allies get half.

First Aid is a blatant reimplementation of Adrenaline Rush with some tweaks. The Medic is the only Raider who will take up the rear guard, giving the quest reward a unique defensive slant in addition to its healing activations. I should mention that there’s intended to be only a second between the Medic’s heals, meaning that she can rapid-fire them on someone in the squad being focused down.


LEVEL 4 (TIER 2)

Rustler

Penetrating Round knocks enemies back and reduces their Movement Speed by 30% for 3 seconds.

Vigorous Inspiration

Raynor and his Raiders heal for 25% of their Basic Attacks while Inspire is active.

Firebat

Adds a Firebat to the squad. The Firebat deals splash damage and takes 50% less damage from Non-Heroic enemies and structures.

Rustler is where Penetrating Round’s knockback went to live, now rolled together with Hamstring’s slowing effect to make it a more attractive choice.

Vigorous Inspiration is a reimplementation of the generic Vigorous Assault, with an extra 10% of healing thrown in because it’s attached to Inspire’s duration rather than being wholly passive.

Finally, the Firebat will help with waveclear via its splash damage (same damage output as a Marine but with a radius large enough to hit the entire wave) and its Non-Heroic armor will aid in taking Mercenary Camps and destroying structures.


LEVEL 7 (TIER 3)

Trick Shot

Penetrating Round’s damage is increased by 20% for each additional target hit, up to 100%.

Revolution Overdrive

Raynor and his Raiders gain 10% Movement Speed while affected by Inspire. This bonus is increased by 5% for each allied Hero nearby when Inspire is cast.

Reaper

Adds a Reaper to the squad. If attacking an Enemy Hero, the Reaper will throw a grenade that deals 225 damage every 10 seconds. Raynor’s Basic Attacks reduce this cooldown by 1 second.

Trick Shot is a rebranded Cluster Round with a clever name and a lack of AOE widening, going down several tiers simply because it wasn’t strong enough to be a 16.

Revolution Overdrive is one of the few unchanged talents, remaining as it is because there’s nothing wrong with it.

Reaper is Focused Attack reincarnated as a Raider talent, providing Raynor with another offense/defense choice. 225 damage sounds like a lot for a bonus damage activation, and it is, but currently Raynor’s Basic Attack damage is 127 and Focus Attack increases the damage of the given attack by 60%, leaving us with 203.7 damage. Given that the Reaper can be killed to prevent the use of his special attack, I feel that 20 or so extra damage on the activation is fair.


LEVEL 10 (TIER 4)

Hyperion

Order the Hyperion to make a strafing run dealing 69 damage a second, hitting up to 4 enemies. Also occasionally fires its Yamato Cannon on Structures for 826 damage. Lasts 12 seconds.

Commando Style (50 Mana, 50 second cooldown)

Activate a Motion Sensor that detects the location of invisible enemies and enemies in the Fog of War for 6 seconds.

Passive: Increases the Attack Range and Attack Damage of Raynor and his Raiders by 20%.

I’ve already gone over why Hyperion is great and why I think Commando Style is appropriate.


LEVEL 13 (TIER 5)

Railgun

Penetrating Round’s damage is no longer affected by Armor.

Steel Resolve

Inspire lasts 50% longer and grants 10 Armor to Raynor and his Raiders while active.

Reactor Add-On

Raynor’s Raiders gains a second charge.

Railgun I did because I think giving an ability an armor-ignoring property would be neat, and because it could give Raynor an interesting niche as an anti-spellshield character without relying entirely on Basic Attacks.

Adrenaline Rush was put out to pasture, so Steel Resolve got some armor from Fight or Flight to make up for the fact that Adrenaline Rush is no longer around to apply Inspire.

Reactor Add-On is a cute throwback to Starcraft II and a big boost for the Raiders’ uptime.

Secret Bonus Round 4th Talent: Spec Ops Dropship

Using Hearthstone will place Raynor and his Raiders into a Dropship that will rapidly fly them them to the chosen destination. This has a 80 second cooldown.

Spec Ops Dropship is kinda like the reverse of Chromie’s “Bye Bye!” talent, allowing Raynor to rapidly re-enter the battlefield rather than helping him get out of it. I figured it would be a nice homage to the unsung hero of many of Raynor’s missions: the sleek black dropship that ferries him and his forces to where they need to be.

Why didn’t I put it with the other talents? Well, as much as I’d love to see it get implemented, I’m pretty skeptical that it would (assuming this rework happens in the first place). Still, it’s a nice idea, and I wanted to pitch it.


LEVEL 16 (TIER 6)

Double Barreled

Penetrating Round gains a second charge.

Shoulder to Shoulder

Increases Inspire’s range by 30%. Each allied Hero affected by Inspire increases the Attack Speed of Raynor and his allies by 5%, up to 20%.

Marauder

Adds a Marauder to the squad. The Marauder’s attacks deal bonus damage to enemy Heroes equal to 3% of their Maximum Health.

With the changes to Penetrating Round’s core functionality and talents, I felt that Double Barreled should be a Level 16 talent because 16 is supposed to be a huge jump in damage and doubling the frequency of being able to use a potentially powerful ability is a big deal.

Shoulder to Shoulder makes Raynor able to increase the value of Inspire for both himself and his allies by a substantial amount, making it extremely valuable in a teamfight.

The Marauder is the Raider who got Giant Killer, something I felt was appropriate given that Marauders are anti-armor units in Starcraft.


LEVEL 20 (TIER 7)

Scorched Earth

An additional set of lasers blast the ground 5 times per second, dealing 40 damage in an area.

Targeting System

Reduces Motion Sensor’s cooldown by 50%. Raynor and his Raiders deal 25% additional damage to enemies under the effect of Motion Sensor.

A Card To Play

Whenever a Hero (ally or enemy) is killed, the cooldowns of Raynor’s Abilities are reduced by 10 seconds.

All In

If a Raider dies, Raynor gains 3% Attack Speed and its Attack Damage is added to Raynor’s while it remains dead.

Scorched Earth received no changes because it, like Hyperion, is perfectly fine as-is.

Targeting System allows Motion Sensor to be used for more than just locating enemies. Since it’s damage dealt by Raynor being increased, it works for all builds.

A Card To Play got buffed to include Basic Abilities so it would become an attractive option for a Penetrating Round or Raynor’s Raiders build. As it is now, it hardly sees any use – the cooldowns on the Heroic abilities are just too long for A Card To Play to have any real value in a teamfight, and if you’ve managed to get to Level 20, teamfight strength is going to be what you want the most because a single lost teamfight will probably lead to the end of the game.

All In is a good choice for players who have gone the full Raider build, allowing Raynor to maintain a high damage output even when his squad is wiped out. The additional Attack Speed is to make up for the lack of special effects, such as the Reaper’s grenade or the Marauder’s health shredding.


With Raynor’s overhauled kit providing a more flexible gameplay experience and the upgraded talent tree supporting a wider variety of build options, this rework would solve the vast majority of the design and gameplay issues that Raynor currently has. It won’t make him good at everything, but that was never really my goal in the first place - I just want Raynor to feel like Jimmy again.

Some old art of an old character that I found and want to post. This is Mar, an infested terran who got left behind (accidentally) by Raynor’s Raiders during the fall of Aiur. She slowly grew infested from exposure and lost her mind.