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Another interesting Q&A has been posted by Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, in what has become a highly anticipated mini-event in the StarCraft 2 community.

As with all recent Q&As, this one also starts with a Chat with the Devs section. Today’s chat brings bad news for the Terran race:

Chat with the Devs: The Terran Starport will no longer transform into a Starbase.

 

During much testing, the Developers realized that the Starports ability to transform into a Starbase was not very essential in the gameplay of the Terrans and was also leaving several tech lab add ons scattered across the map. At the moment, the Starports ability to transform into a Starbase has been taken out of the game, thus to produce advanced units, the Starport will need the appropriate tech lab add-on, similar to the original StarCraft.

Who hasn’t looked forward to producing units from a forward, airborne base?

On to the Q&A:

1) Can an upgraded command center be salvaged? Does it lose its mobility when upgraded to a surveillance station?

 

No, the command center cannot be salvaged, nor can it lift off after it is upgraded to a Surveillance Station (allows the use of the Comsat ability).

We already knew that.

2) In Starcraft 1, when you cancel a nuclear launch that is in progress, you lose the warhead. Will Starcraft II make any changes to this setback?

 

Currently, if you cancel the nuke while it is firing, you will still lose the nuke. This outcome has not yet been finalized and may be changed in the final version.

 

3) Can a Ghost be equipped with both a Nuke and Drop Pod simultaneously?

 

Yes, any Ghost can launch either a Nuke or a Drop Pod, making the Ghost highly effective at responding to multiple battle circumstances.

The Ghost is shaping up to be a critical unit to have around in every Terran engagement. Even without the Lockdown ability, the StarCraft 2 Ghost will have many ways to have an impact on any battle, and even change the course of entire matches.

ghostnuke.JPG

4) Will “caster” units, such as the Protoss High Templar, have a regular attack, like Tassadar had in SC1, or will they only be able to attack through their spells?

 

Currently, there are no plans to give the High Templar a physical attack, though High Templar Story Characters will have additional abilities beyond that of the standard unit. At the moment, the High Templar is one of best support units in the game, with the ability to cast a devastating Psi Storm or choke off crucial areas of the map with the force field ability. Once youve used up its energy, no worries, convert it into an Archon with another Templar.

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No change from StarCraft 1. Casters in the game tend to have a useless attack or no attack at all. These are usually fragile units that would be best kept away from the war zone, either way. Well, except for the Mothership!

5) Can Marines be Stimmed while in a bunker? What about a Ghosts snipe ability?

 

In the current build, abilities cannot be activated while inside a bunker, but you can activate abilities before entering a bunker. For example, if you activate Stim Pack on a few Marines, then enter a bunker, they will attack at the higher rate of fire from inside the bunker. The Stim Pack effects will still wear off as normal though.

This sounds like an artificial restriction of the UI. Players who can click faster will unload the marines, stim them up and load them back into the bunker, while slower players will lose this advantage. This effect will be magnified when dealing with main base defenses, which might have 2-3 bunkers loaded with marines. What reason is there to prevent players from selecting units inside the bunker and using their abilities?

bunkers.jpg

This is another point in the argument for “skill” versus a streamlined UI and automation. So far, automation and better UI functionality have prevailed, taking the game to a new level where skill will be determined by fast decisions, reducing the emphasis on agility and the number of mouse clicks a player can manage. This is a logical progression for the RTS genre, one that Blizzard should fully embrace in StarCraft 2.

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It’s been three weeks since the last unit page update on StarCraft2.com, and we’ve been starving for new official information since. Blizzard has finally come around with today’s update – officially presenting one of the Terran’s most famous units from StarCraft 1, the Battlecruiser.

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_battlecruiser.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_battlecruiser.swf</a>

Builds From: Starport
Armament: Laser Batteries, Yamato Cannon, Plasma Torpedoes
Role: Capital Ship

 

These massive, heavily armored combat ships are virtual flying fortresses, built to keep the peace and dominate the space lanes of the Koprulu sector. Outfitted with bristling laser batteries and thick neosteel armor, these imposing vessels are among the most powerful to be found in terran space. Many commanders use battlecruisers as their command vessels during extended campaigns. There are several examples of vessels specifically refitted for this purpose, such as General Duke’s Norad II and Norad III, as well as the battlecruiser Hyperion commanded by Jim Raynor.

 

battlecruiser-thumb3.jpg

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The Battlecruiser is the Terran’s most capable, all around fighting unit. At the top of the tech tree, this was the unit Terran players struggled to get to and manufacture in large amounts. Indeed, a pack of Battlecruisers was capable of dealing with just about any threat, and it took special effort to take down a Terran player who could pump these out in a dedicated fashion.

bc2.JPG

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The Battlecruisers of StarCraft 2 appear to be designed to fulfill the same role with some further specialization. The Battlecruiser now comes in two flavors, sporting either the original, dreaded Yamato Cannon – which produces a high energy laser burst, capable of taking down many targets in a single shot, or Plasma Torpedoes, which burn ground targets to a crisp in a short deluge of fiery death. This is an area of effect ability – something which the Terran of StarCraft 2, battle hardened and experienced from previous battles, have learned to appreciate.

Battle Cruiser AoE

* Click for big

With the new Plasma Torpedoes ability, the Battlecruiser, which was usually most effective in massed fleets, might now be also used as the Terran’s High Templar of sorts – a unit which the player keeps in every expansion, helping to defend it against hordes of rushing Hydralisks, reducing their health and numbers quickly and leaving only a few remains for static defenses to take care of. This will prove to be a great defensive measure – one which can be quickly turned into a powerful offensive force, when the player finally decides the time has come for a full, dedicated strike.

The Yamato cannon is a terrifying weapon that uses an intense magnetic field to focus a nuclear detonation into a cohesive beam of energy. The cannon requires a huge reserve of energy to fire, but its effects on the target are impressive, to say the least. Plasma torpedoes give battlecruisers an armament capable of saturating a target area with a lethal deluge of fire, ideal for breaking up oncoming attack waves or ravaging a defensive position. As with the Yamato cannon, a battlecruiser needs to build up a sufficient reserve of energy to unleash a plasma torpedo bombardment.

Either way, it looks like the Battlecruisers of StarCraft 2 will be even more versatile and lethal, filling multiple roles across the tactical spectrum. Players will have to decide how to best customize their fleet of warships, enabling them to deal with a greater variety of threats than ever before.

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When the official StarCraft2.com site launched, it came preloaded with a few already well-defined Protoss units. Since then, we’ve been zealously following and covering each new addition to the site. Now that StarCraft2.com is going through a dry period, we have decided that it’s time to give these old units some well deserved attention. Also, their concept art is absolutely inspiring!

 

Immortal

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_immortal.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_immortal.swf</a>

Builds From: Gateway
Armament: Twin Phase Disruptors
Role: Ranged Assault Support

 

Before the loss of Aiur, veteran protoss warriors who had been crippled in battle could volunteer to continue their service by being transplanted into dragoon exoskeletons. Now the dragoons of the past are all but gone. The sacred shrine that was dedicated to the creation of the dragoons was infested by the zerg and lost along with the protoss homeworld itself. The remaining dragoons have become the immortals…

The Immortal is the Protoss’ answer to the Terran’s heavy weapons – especially, the dreaded Siege Tank. The Protoss of StarCraft 1 had a hard time cracking a dedicated siege assault, which could annihilate entire legions of Dragoons with ease. The Immortals have a hardened energy shield that is activated once the attack which hits it exceeds a specific damage threshold. This makes them effectively invulnerable (and immortal) when facing several types of attackers, who deal large amounts of damage in single blows, such as the Siege Tank. Other heavy damage dealing units, such as the Cobra, Battle Cruiser and Thor will likely not be able to penetrate their shields as well.

immortal.JPG

Fortunately for the enemies of the Protoss, the Immortals’ shields are penetrable by weaker attacks – usually by high frequency, low damaging attackers, such as the Marine, Reaper, and probably also the Viking and Banshee. This makes the Immortal a highly specialized unit; very useful against some types of units, and extremely vulnerable to others. Currently, the Immortal is not capable of engaging aerial targets.

But the loss of every immortal is keenly felt. These ancient warriors are a dying breed pledged to give their all in the end times of their people. They stand on the front lines of the final war, sacrificing themselves to buy their race a few more days or hours. Soon none will remain.

 

Stalker

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_stalker.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_stalker.swf</a>

Builds From: Gateway
Armament: Chronal Web
Role: High Mobility Scout / Ambusher

 

The overthrow of Aiur has proven that guile alone cannot defeat a foe as relentless as the zerg. Inspired by the ancient and honored dragoon walkers the dark templar have begun to build war machines of their own. The stalker is a machine controlled by the shadow-essence of a dark templar warrior fused into a metal body to protect his people.

The Stalkers are the second Dragoon variant. This time, instead of heavy weapons and shields, they focus on ambushes and mobility. The Stalkers’ Blink ability allows them to ignore terrain height differences completely, chase down fleeing enemy units, or quickly retreat from battle themselves. Their attack is effective against both ground and air targets, making them excellent all-rounded units that will likely become mainstays of many Protoss armies.

stalker.JPG

 

Phase Prism

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_phaseprism.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_protoss_phaseprism.swf</a>

Builds From: Robotics Facility
Armament: None
Role: Tactical Transport

 

For thousands of years the protoss have studied the nature of time and space. Through their painstaking studies and experiments protoss researchers have uncovered many of the secrets of the universe. Using psionic manufacturing processes, the protoss have learned how to create a robotic mind whose programming is built into the molecules of an advanced crystal lattice. This “crystal computer” is able to manipulate matter and energy with a precision no ordinary organic mind could comprehend.

The Phase Prism is a sort of hybrid between a Shuttle and a Pylon. It functions as the Protoss’ main transport unit, “carrying” units within its crystal lattice as energy signatures, which are later rematerialized on the battlefield. The Phase Prism can also deploy and function as a Pylon, providing energy in a small radius. This feature is especially important for the Protoss of StarCraft 2, which can now warp-in units to any location on the map that is powered up by this energy. Aside from that, the Phase Prism will be extremely useful as a back-up energy source for bases and expansions that come under attack, as Pylons are very lucrative targets for the enemies of the Protoss.

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/movieplayer_protoss_phaseprism.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/movieplayer_protoss_phaseprism.swf</a>

Ironically, chances are, that while Blizzard is currently focusing debate on such controversial and problematic units like the Mothership, it’s units like Phase Prism and Stalker that usually end up being constantly tweaked and patched, due their flexibility and multiple field roles.
The Stalker’s ability to hunt down fleeing infantry using Blink and Phase Prism’s ability to warp in units and power buildings anywhere on the map will surely have more gameplay impact and usage than any wicked Mothership spell.

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Following last week’s somewhat boring Q&A, this week’s session is much more interesting. Posted by Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, it features answers regarding important gameplay mechanics and other issues fans have been inquiring about for a long time.

Even the “Chat with Devs” section brings up an interesting dilemma:

Chat with Devs: The StarCraft II team is trying out what it would be like to have the Ghost as a Tier 1.5 unit without stealth, keeping the stealth ability as an upgrade at a later Tier.

 

This will be quite interesting since their snipe ability could provide much support to a group of Marines, picking off key units such as Medics, Templars, etc.

This will surely make Ghosts appear in more games, even 1v1s, and increase the available number of infantry units the Terran can normally field. Will they be useful inside a Bunker?

On to the Q&A!

1) Will there be Vespene Gas deposits that yield better rates, the same as yellow crystals?

 

It is very likely that there will be higher yield Vespean Gas deposits, though we are being very careful in balancing this, since gas collection is based on a more linear rate of collection (3 collectors) versus mineral collection.

Interesting news. This creates even more options and decisions for players to make in every match of StarCraft 2. Do you expand to the natural, easily defendable, normal-resources expansion, or do you risk taking over one of the higher quality expansions, either with yellow crystals or the higher quality Vespene deposits? Such a decision could affect gameplay directly, especially if you have to choose an expansion with just one of the two higher quality resources.

yellowcrystals.JPG

* Our long time readers might remember our exclusive find of the Yellow Crystals

Traditionally, in StarCraft 1, more mineral resources would allow a player to create a large army of basic units, and use his gas to upgrade their abilities. On the other hand, a player who takes hold of gas reserves could tech up quickly and field high end units.

2) What happens if you initiate the warp-in of a Protoss Stalker but the pylon providing power is destroyed before warp-in completes?

 

If you lose the pylon providing power for the unit warping in, you will lose that unit, and the purchasing credits will likely be refunded.

Is a harsher penalty not warranted? If you manage to successfully cut off Pylon power while your enemy’s units are warping in, why not punish him accordingly and take away his spent credits?

3) Could the Colossus be transported by the Phase Prism, since the Prism’s crystal can turn any matter into energy?

 

Yes, the new Phase Prism now transports by changing the unit they wish to transport into energy, which is stored in the Phase Prism for transport. This allows the Phase Prism to be able to transport even gigantic units such as the Colossus.

Previously, Blizzard had stated that the Colossus could not be transported in any way. In fact, this is one of the main issues players have with it replacing the Reaver, as it could never fill its infamous role, sneaking up behind enemy territory and devastating the worker line in seconds. This opens up new options for the Colossus – an already mobile unit, capable of traversing physical obstacles few units can manage. We are left to wonder whether Phase Prisms will still be able to “carry” Colossi in energy form in the final game, an ability that might prove to be extremely powerful.

colossusconceptsmall.JPG

Another consideration, now that the Colossus is transportable, regards the Thor – another unit that we’ve been told is too large to be transported. Now that transporting huge units is fair game, we expect a similar solution to come up for the Terran as well. Perhaps a Dropship could could give up its entire cargo space for the Thor, which it would lift, tied to its hull?

dropship.JPG

4) What happens if a Terran Battlecruiser targets a Protoss Stalker with the Yamato Cannon but the Stalker blinks away before the shot is completed?

 

Currently, the shot from the Yamato Cannon will still track and hit the Protoss Stalker.

Yamato shots used to track fleeing StarCraft 1 units to infinite distances, and this will not change in StarCraft 2.

5) Will Dark Templars be invisible when warping in, or susceptible to attack for a few seconds before it fades out?

 

No, currently the Dark Templar will be invisible the instant it begins to warp-in, though of course we are still testing this for balance as it makes the Dark Templar quite strong in back door drops.

Another way for the Protoss to disrupt their enemy’s economy easily. Making the Dark Templar visible and vulnerable for a brief period while materializing would make for a good gameplay mechanic, however.

6) Do the bunkers have any visual indication as to whether or not they’re occupied?

 

Currently the bunkers do not have any visual indications to whether it is occupied or not, but this is something we would like to change.

That’s it for this week’s excellent update, which somewhat compensates for the lack of news recently. Where’s our new unit page, Blizzard?

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