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Q&A 29 is here. Continuing the recent trend of answering gameplay related questions, this batch, coupled with Karune’s gameplay blog, brings us up to date on a few interesting issues.

Gameplay Blog: This week I had to learn the hard way a change in our latest build of StarCraft II, which the Devs conveniently forgot to tell me about. As Protoss, I did my standard dual Gateway build, scouting to find that a lone SCV building a bunker outside of my base. In my mind, I thought, OK- a standard bunker rush, no problem! Build 2 Zealots and then hit the Bunker.

 

As it was a small 2 player map, my opponent was able to bring in a single Marine and Medic very soon, especially with the SCV repairing the Bunker at a very fast rate. As he repaired, I chased the SCV around the Bunker and attacked the Bunker with my other Zealots. To my disbelief, the Medic inside the Bunker was healing the SCV outside of the Bunker. Soon enough, another SCV showed up to repair the Bunker, as well as a Marauder, slowing my Zealots before they could reach the Bunker. At this point I had lost my initial two Zealots, but I had built four more. At the same time, my opponent now had a Marauder, Medic, and Marine, with 2 SCVs guarding the Bunker. These SCVs were impossible to kill since they were both running around the Bunker, being healed at the same time, while my Zealots were slowed and shot at by the Bunker. When my Zealots attacked the Bunker, the SCVs repaired the Bunker. Needless to say, the standard Bunker rush is not so standard anymore. With Terrans Salvage ability, being able to deconstruct Terran buildings for 100% of the cost back, adds to the devastating effect of a StarCraft II Bunker push. On top of that, adding a Ghost in the Bunker, allows for Sniping within the Bunker, as well as huge range, making it an effect pushing structure before you tech to Siege Tanks. Thanks for letting me know guys :P GG.

The StarCraft 2 Bunker is more versatile and effective than its previous incarnation. Here’s what we know about it so far:

  • Holds and protects 4 infantry units
  • Units inside can use special abilities
  • Can be salvaged like other Terran buildings, enabling an inexpensive “Bunker-Push” strategy

 

The last two mark the difference between the new and old Bunker. The StarCraft 2 version appears to be extremely powerful, especially if all unit abilities can indeed be used from within it. While a protected Medic healing outside troops is a huge advantage, more dangerous abilities, such as the Ghost‘s Nuclear Launch, might be completely overpowered when launched from inside a Bunker.

Karune later explained how this new, dangerous strategy can be effectively stopped:

The Bunker rush can be stopped by going dual Gateways, Zealot spamming, and effective scouting. It was the fact that I didn’t expect the Medic to heal out, that ended up in my loss. Always kill the SCV first! I was thinking…why would he put his Medic in the Bunker?

On to the Q&A:

1. Do the Terrans currently have a purely dedicated anti-air unit filling the role of the Wraith and Goliath?

 

No, the Terran Viking is currently their primary anti-air unit, which is built from the Factory. The Viking can currently shoot both ground and air when in ground mode, and is able to transform into an air to air fighter, for better mobility and economy raids.

The Viking, which could previously only engage ground units in its mech form, can now attack both ground and air units from the ground.

Vikings: Anti Everything

2. Do the Auto Turrets built by the Nomad attack randomly like the bunkers in the original StarCraft or will the player be able to choose the target similar to the Missile Tower?

 

Auto Turrets can be controlled by the player as if it were a stationary unit. You can both group them and focus fire with them. When they are not given an order, they will fire at the nearest enemy within range. The Nomads second construction option, which is the Mine Drone, will not be able to be controlled by the player as easily. The Mine Drone is a stationary defense structure, which places four mines around it, and then immediately cloaks both the mines and the structure. Similar to the Spider Mines from the original StarCraft, these mines will wreck havoc on an incoming army without the ability to see cloaked units. The mines does a base damage of 50 plus an additional 50 damage to armored units. On top of that, the Mine Drone replaces the mines after they detonate, temporarily revealing the Mine Drone structure. Similar to the Auto Turret, both of these structures will cost energy to build from the Nomad, and will have a very minimum setup time.

The Nomad just became even more of an interesting replacement to the Science Vessel. The new Mine Drone ability is incredibly powerful – it is both free, costing only 50 energy, and autonomously replenishing, meaning it can supply an endless amount of cloaked mines. With each mine doing 50 points of splash damage + 50 to armored units, this ability sounds almost too powerful on paper. Compared to the StarCraft 1 exchange rate of 75 minerals to 3 Spider-Mines (and a bonus Vulture), this is a steal.

Nomad & AutoFriends

3. With the Reaver removed, and his siege role moved to the Warp Ray, what will take his splash role?

 

The Protoss Colossus now has a linear splash damage beam attack, which blazes enemies in a horizontal area of effect, from where the Colossus is facing. Like all area of effect attacks, the Colossuss beam is excellent at annihilating close groups of M&Ms (Marines and Medics) and mass Zealots.

The Colossus will now act more like the unit it’s been brought in to replace. Its beam attack will probably originate at a lower point on the Colossus’ structure, annihilating everything in its path.

4. With water featured on some of your maps, will this allow modders to try new game ideas that may make use of water?

 

This should be possible, though much of this experimentation will have to be left up to the modders. I am sure there will be amazing mod creations the community will come up with.

5.What is the status of StarCraft IIs AI?

 

StarCraft IIs AI (artificial intelligence) is definitely superior to Brood War in many ways, though most notably, the AI does a great deal more of scouting, and makes decisions according to what it has found during those scouting missions. Unsuccessful scouting missions, similar to what a player might experience would tend to lead towards a more standard type of army build or continued scouting.

Usually, AI opponent in RTS games “cheat” – they don’t actually have to scout out their enemy, and always know exactly what he’s doing. Will the StarCraft 2 AI break the mold and supply a challenge without resorting to unfair advantages? This is something that RTS players have been hoping for for a long time.

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