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StarCraft II – Blog: Part Two

StarCraft II – Blog: Part Two

StarCraft II: Blog Part One
In my last post I talked about the background to the new StarCraft game and what my immediate feelings were about playing it. In this post Id like to talk a little more about what I learned from taking part in the beta, aside from how to lose a game with good grace, and what impact the Real.ID scheme will have on StarCraft and World of Warcraft players.

As I said before, in the games that I played during the beta were played almost exclusively as Terran. The Terran race seemed a good place to start given that the single player content for this game, titled Wings of Liberty, will be the Terran campaign with two further releases focusing on the other races. Heart of the Swarm (the Zerg campaign) and Legacy of the Void (the Protoss campaign) are the two other versions which will be released. The cynical amongst you might wonder if this was an attempt to maximise the income from a single game however I prefer to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt and believe that they made this choice to provide the best campaign experience for each race with the maximum amount of focus and polish.

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Playing Terran provides you with a strong mix of both biological units and machines. A number of different tactics can be employed from the cheeky proxy barracks rush to the popular Marines/Marauders and Medivacs.

The rank and file Terran solider is the Marine and he is the first unit produced once you build a barracks. Adding a Tech Lab to a barracks opens up the other two basic unit Marauders (heavy assault infantry) and Reapers (a raiding unit able to bypass blocks in terrain by use of a rocket pack). The final biological unit is a Ghost. A Ghost is a sniper unit, capable of cloaking. Very expensive and not available until you build a Ghost Academy, it has the ability to call down a nuclear strike on your opponent. If used correctly a single Ghost can make all the difference in a fight, if scouted and countered however it can be a waste of precious resources.

The vehicles of the Terran can be accessed after building a Factory (for ground based vehicles) and then a Starport (for air based vehicles). The basic ground vehicle is a Hellion, a fast buggy that is able to shoot flames at your enemy. Adding a Tech Lab to your Factory allows you access to the Siege Tank and Thor. The Siege Tank can switch to siege mode and provide long range artillery support and the Thor is a giant mech robot with heavy anti air capability.

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If you get a Starport up then you have access to the Viking and the Medivac. The Viking is the basic ariel unit, which has a neat trick of being able to switch to a ground mode and attack ground troops. The Medivac is able to heal biologic units on the ground, and is used in the aforementioned triple M tactic. A squad made up of Marines, Marauders and Medivacs is a potent weapon, especially if youve researched the Stimpack upgrade (which increases movement speed and damage while reducing unit health).

Adding a Tech Lab onto a Starport will open up the end game air based units of the Banshee, Raven and the Battlecruiser. The Banshee is a tactical strike aircraft able to cloak itself from enemy view. The Raven is a defensive aircraft, able to detect cloaked enemies and also drop auto turret machine guns to support ground troops. The Battlecruiser is a very powerful warship that will take out almost anything in its path. If you see a fleet of these heading your way, you know you are in trouble.

All of the units can be upgraded to some degree via research carried out at your Tech Lab. Of course all of this consumes resources and of course like any RTS resource gathering and management are an important element to success in any StarCraft 2 game.

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Understanding your opponents tactics is the key to this game. While its possible to luck into the right strategy, knowing what Tech path your opponent is going down helps you understand their goals and allows you to counteract correctly. This is normally done, certainly in the early moments of a game, by sending out a scout to recon your opponents base. If you manage to get a scout into your opponents base unnoticed then you have a strong position to fight from.

So here is where I learned my first Terran lesson. To avoid letting a scout easy access to your base, bloke your choke. Most of the basic maps provided in the game only have one point of access to the starting base, the choke point. As a Terran its imperative to get that point blocked as quickly as possible, normally using two supply depots and a barracks. This stops your enemy from getting into your base and being able to see what you are up to, or from deploying a cheeky proxy barracks in your own base and building Marines on your doorstep.

In the games that I played in the beta I only scratched the surface of understanding the tactics that can be used. If you watch any replays on YouTube, and there are plenty, you will see amazing moves pulled off by expert StarCraft players. While I doubt I will ever get to that level of play, Im sure that when the game goes live Ill have many hours of fun trying out new tactics.

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One of the other major developments coming along with StarCraft 2 is Blizzards revamp of their online matchmaking service 2.0 will work, not only with StarCraft 2, it will also link Blizzards other games (World of Warcraft and Diablo 3) to the service via the Real.ID system.

The concept of the Real.ID system is to link any character you might have on your World of Warcraft account or StarCraft 2 to a single email and real life name. Then once registered you will be able to add your friends and know if they are playing any Blizzard game and be able to communicate with them.

While World of Warcraft players have been calling out for cross realm communication for a while this new feature will take some getting used to. No longer can you hide from your guild on an alt or go for a quick game of StarCraft without them knowing what you are up to. Some people are hesitant about this, and to be honest, until we see it working in practise Im not sure how it will pan out. However I am sure well see a number of iterations on the new system before Blizzard get it 100% right. For instance at present there is no in-game chat room support to find a quick skirmish match in StarCraft 2. Also the system is region locked, so if I had friends in the US I wouldnt be able to chat with them or set up a match. Given the global nature of some StarCraft 2 tournaments I can see this as a major issue in bringing eSports stars together.

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I understand that Blizzard is trying to build more of a community around its games and I applaud that. Im just not sure I want my raid leader pinging me in the middle of a heavy Marine fire fight asking if Im going to be ready for the raid in 30 minutes. Grin!

Next time Ill talk about what I hope we can expect from the single player campaign and how on earth Im going to pass the time until release.

If you missed Part One of the StarCraft 2 blog Check it out.

Also take a look at GamingHeaven’s StarCraft 2 Press Day Preview here.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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