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Q&A 29: Bunker Evolved, Nomad Mines, StarCraft 2’s Fair AI

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 😛 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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16 Comments to “Q&A 29: Bunker Evolved, Nomad Mines, StarCraft 2’s Fair AI”

  1. Mike — February 10, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    Guau good post!!!!! XD

  2. SteelVelocity — February 10, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

    Yeah, finally. SClegacy had it up for 2 days. Anyways, I like everything in this one, except for the part where medics can heal OUTSIDE of the bunker. That should be scrapped.

  3. Mike — February 10, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    the terran is scary!!!!

  4. Mike — February 10, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

    terrans is gonna kicks some asses

  5. SteelVelocity — February 10, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

    hey mike, don’t spam. put all of your comments on one post.

  6. George — February 10, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

    I am pretty sure they are not concerned about timing. Otherwise they would just copypaste the Q&As and glue em here. Just look at all the stuff they write.

  7. MechaBeast — February 10, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

    I would like to see Starcraft devs take a look a what abilities are physically plausible when integrating them into SC2. I’m sure medics healing inside the bunker does not effect game play balance, but come on here. She’s inside. The marine is outside. Its not hard. Anti-grav falls into this category too.

    Awesome features to the Nomad, but please fix the special ability that makes it look uglier than sin. I’d rather the Nomad just create a mine field for 50 mana. Once a mine blows someone up the damn thing would just de-cloak and be destroyed anyhow

  8. Scott — February 10, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

    I think medics should only be able to heal other units within the bunker, but not units outside. As is it sounds terribly overpowered. But I agree that other units should be able to use their abilities.

  9. SteelVelocity — February 10, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

    Snipers poppin’ people out inside bunkers will definetly play a role in my strategy.

  10. Dill — February 10, 2008 @ 9:15 pm

    Heal(for outside units) and snipe seem pretty iffy, ghost drops seem way overpowered.

  11. Ken — February 10, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

    surpise surprise… no zerg updates… anyway..

    I would like to comment on the Nomad’s new mine drone ability. Let me get this straight… the Nomad deploys a cloaking, self-sustaining spidermine factory?!? What the heck is up with that? It better be easy to kill when spotted coz I imagine it giving my ground forces some hell to experience…And the new bunker push… sweet Jesus, its almost invincible! I wonder what kind of equipment the medic uses to heal the SCV from inside the bunker… Freaky!!! I hope that changes as well.

    Also, in my opinion, the Colossus’ new linear damage may be cooler and more useful now, but take note, it still differs a lot compared to the splash damage done by the Reaver’s scarab. Linear damage is kinda like the Lurker’s attack in BW. Therefore, placement is very important and defending against it would be rather different.

    All in all, I think these new revelations have totally made creative and new strategies in the minds of the gamers. A new pool of strategies are being made and thought of at this very moment! Thanks for such an accurate update. SC2 blog is kickin’ ass!!! (but still, only 2nd best to TL.net, no offense…)

  12. battlarmd — February 11, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    I would want to second the splash damage comment. Linear damage is darn cool, visually impressive, but it serves a very different use strategically, and as the colossus’ beam damage is NOT that great, even if the bean is a horizonal bean, we are just talking about a 40 damage max per sec, which is still very different from a sacrab exploding at 125 damage. Let me try to explain more.

    In SC1, Reavers plays a dominant role in stopping zerg hoards and raiding economy lines. Drop a reaver, BOMB BOMB, and you lift off and go. Sure, now you have a Phase-prism and a colossus coming through, but by the time the beam chases down the SCVs, most would have been long gone. Currently, zerg has banelings and terrans still have tanks, but the protoss still don’t have any unit that can hit above 60 dam spontaneously, and take to my book, is still lacking.

    I am still waiting for the protoss to unveil a unit with a strong punch, and will be sorely disappointed if they turn out to have none.

  13. Spiral Architect — February 11, 2008 @ 10:35 am

    Well, no one said the Colossus is a 1:1 replacement to the Reaver.

    Maybe they can give it some other ability to make it more interesting.

  14. Dill — February 11, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

    The high templar seems like it could fill in thew “instant splash” in a way (It won’t be instant and will need some micromanagement, but is still a fast chunk of area damage.) The colossus seems like it will be a very damaging unit overall, though, and always has been.

  15. Mercutio — February 11, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted…

    I have to say that, while this certainly seems cool and all, and I’m glad to see the spider mines coming back… exactly how many more iterations are we going to get here?

    First we don’t have Firebats, then we do, then we don’t again, then we have Marauders. The Thor is going on, what, its fourth facelift? The Cobra has come and gone. God only KNOWS what’s up with the Protoss Mothership these days and how it’s going to work.

    I mean, we can argue about whether or not Medics healing from inside the bunkers isOP, but what’s the point? They’ll change it again in two weeks. I don’t mind being privy to Blizzard’s design process, god knows its superior to their ‘we won’t explain our reasons for anything ever’ approach on World of Warcraft, but I’d rather know about overarching goals and how they’re proceeding towards them and other more higher-level concepts they’re working on than getting long digressions on a specific unit or specific strategy that both Karune knows and WE know won’t apply in two weeks time.

  16. SCV_Operator — February 12, 2008 @ 7:46 am

    Hey Mercutio,

    I agree it is frustrating to have things constantly change around, but I think part of the idea is that if you see something you really like in one of these updates, that it gives you a chance to say so and hopefully keep it in.

    For the most part, I expect the development is progressing along its own lines, but in at least a couple of ways they have taken notice of the fans’ opinions. And with such a changing and adapting process of producing the game, it shows that the developers are open to new ideas – if new and interesting units like the Thor, and old faithfuls like the Firebat are being messed around with, it shows that anything goes.

    On another point, getting 100% of resources back for a building doesn’t make sense. There must be some cost, something that can’t be recycled. At least make it 90% of teh cost back.

    And as for units using powers within the bunker, I think that ‘s great. Some of them make a lot of sense – like sniping. Drop pods and nukes could require the ghost to be in open territory to communicate with satellites, or something like that, so that they couldn’t work in a bunker. Similarly Psi Storm might require the DT to be exposed to the same atmosphere as the target site.
    Healing could work, but only if units were closer to the bunker.
    As for activiting these powers, presumably there is now some sort of bunker mini-menu with the options of those units inside showing. Or you click on the bunker, and then click on the unit to access powers.

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