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Blizzard’s has announced some changes to its matchmaking algorithm, making some match finder adjustments while improving skill-level compatibility between the matched players. The issues addressed in the update are important mainly for arranged teams, whose individual player rankings are now taken into account.

Improved Matchmaking for Teams


While the matchmaking system as a whole is looking very strong, one area we identified for improvement was matchmaking for arranged teams that were still in placement matches. We found these first few matches for arranged teams were giving them an unfair advantage against their opponents. Since so many new arranged teams were being created every day, this was resulting in a noticeable amount of imbalanced matches for team games. The corrections we’ve made should show an improvement for many team players, especially in the sub-Gold leagues.

When two Diamond league players casually pair up for a few games, the placement matches can easily become a 5:0 freeroll for the arranged team and a hopeless encounter for the random Silver league players facing the duo. The new and improved mechanism will provide challenging matches for high-level teams from the get go.

Improved Placement for Teams


Another related issue we’ve received feedback on and experienced firsthand is the difficulty of placing in a high league while in an arranged team. We made two changes that should improve the experience. 1) The improved matchmaking mentioned above will help teams find opponents of similar skill sooner and, as a result, help to more quickly place teams in the league in which they belong. 2) We also found we were being too conservative in how teams were being placed in leagues and have made some adjustmentsto allow teams to be more easily placed in higher leagues. 3v3 random and arranged teams will likely notice this change the most.

A complimentary aspect to facing higher-level opponents is progressing faster through the ranks, placing the team in a fitting league after fewer matches.

Team Matchmaking Improvements
We found conditions where the matchmaking system was forcing certain teams and players to wait longer than needed for team matches. Those conditions have been addressed and the wait times should be reduced without affecting the quality of the matchmaking.

A very interesting and insightful FAQ has been posted by a user named ExcaliburZ on the Battle.net forums. The post is one of the highest rated forum posts in the US and includes answers to the following, very commonly asked questions:

Q: If I’ve never played 1v1, but I’m 2v2 Diamond, who will I face in 1v1 Placements?


A: Your performance in other brackets is considered when initiallyseeding your placement matches. In this case, you’d likely be paired with a Diamond player to start.

Q: Do I need to reach a particular point value to get promoted?


A: No. Promotions happen independently of your displayed rating.


Q: I won 10 games in a row! Why am I not promoted yet?


A: Your MMR and sigma may not have reached stability, or the system is simply unconfident about you. Expected outcomes cause you to stabilize the fastest. Your MMR will continue to rise until you hit your skill ceiling, at which point your win ratio will decrease and your rating will start to stabilize.


Q: I’m in Bronze. Is it possible to get promoted directly to Gold?


A: Yes. It’s possible to go from any league to any other league, wherever your MMR and sigma stabilize.


Q: Is it possible I haven’t been promoted because my APM or end-game score isn’t high enough?


A: Both factors are irrelevant because they can be gamed. The only contributing factor to promotion is the end outcome (win or loss) and the skill level of your opponent (his MMR). This is confirmed by Blizzard’s Leagues and Ladders FAQ, found in a sticky at the top of the Multiplayer and eSports forum.

While Blizzard has not officially confirmed most of this information, many have researched these details thoroughly and have produced rather-conclusive results.

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The results are in: according to our very recent poll, 48% of the our readers have hardware concerns that might prevent them from fully enjoying StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty.

StarCraft 2 HardwarePoll Results - a Thousand Votes

For many, getting to play StarCraft 2 is as easy as going to the store, buying and installing the game; for others, who have fallen out of the race to maintain a modern computer, capable of playing new games, it may not be so simple. Now that StarCraft 2 is finally out, the time has come to get some new gear, and one of the main things to consider is the graphics card.

Nvidia has just released a new graphics card – the GeForce GTX 460 – targeted at those wishing to get a cost-efficient gaming system without breaking the bank, and we will review it here today. As well, we’re going to go over some more hardware and recommend the best parts for a system built to play StarCraft 2.

At $199 ($229 for the 1GB variant) and including a trial coupon for the game, this card is positioned to compete in the mid-range graphics card arena and provide exactly the right amount of GPU-juice for StarCraft 2. Can the card really live up to this claim? The guys at Nvidia have sent us a shiny new EVGA GeForce GTX 460 with 1GB of memory to test just that.

THE CARD

First of all, let’s go over the card’s story and specs. If technobabble isn’t your thing, skip right ahead to the results down the line.

The GTX 460 is Nvidia’s second Fermi (GF104 core) graphics card, released after the GeForce GTX 465 – a more expensive variant that was essentially a stripped down version of Nvidia’s higher-end GeForce GTX 480 card. Not priced competitively, it didn’t do so well in the market.

The 460 is everything the 465 should have been in the mid-range market: as a slightly updated design, it performs more efficiently per clock cycle; it also has a higher price/performance ratio than the rest of Nvidia’s GTX line. It is indeed priced very competitively, performing better than the equivalent AMD model – the Radeon 5830. Not only that, it also overclocks like a champ: enough to outperform much more expensive cards and go toe to toe with its older and more powerful brother, the GeForce GTX 470; but more on that later.

SPECIFICATIONS

 —————————— GTX 460 1GB GDDR5   |   GTX 460 768MB GDDR5—————————

Graphics Clock                             675                                 675

Processor Clock                          1300                               1300

Memory Clock                            1800                               1800

Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec)         37.8                                37.8

Memory Interface width             256 bit                            196 bit

Memory Bandwitdh (GB/sec)      115.2                               86.4

Maximum Power Draw                160W                              160W

Price                                           $229                               $199

TEST SYSTEMS

We tested 3 different cards in different price ranges, attempting to isolate GPU performance and determine the sweet spot for StarCraft 2 gaming. As well, two different CPUs were used to evaluate the impact of the CPU on performance.

System #1: Old/Mainstream

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 @ 3.6GHz
  • Motherboard: Asus P5B
  • Hard Disk: Intel X-25V SSD X 2 (RAID 0)
  • Memory: Kingston DDR2 800MHz 1GB X 4
  • Video Driver: Nvidia – 258.98 WHQL; ATI – Catalyst 10.7
  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit, freshly installed

System #2: New/High-End

  • CPU: Intel i7 860 @ 3.8 GHz
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3
  • Hard Disk: Intel X-25M SSD
  • Memory: Kingston DDR3 1600 MHz 2GB X 2
  • Video Driver: Nvidia – 258.98 WHQL; ATI – Catalyst 10.7
  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit, freshly installed

THE TEST

Two different replays were used. The first is of a typical 15 minute 1v1 game on Kulas Ravine, testing normal gameplay conditions with two players only. The second is a 2v2 game, meant to test our systems in an environment with 200-food armies clashing.

We tested the GTX 460 under many conditions: 1680X1050 using the high graphics option preset and high texture levels; 1920X1200 using the ultra graphics preset and ultra texture levels; 1920X1200 ultra with 4xAA/8xAF; and 1920X1200 with 4xAA/8xAF – overclocked. We also tested the impact of the windowed fullscreen mode on performance.

As well, we compared the GTX 460 using 1920X1200 ultra against ATI’s low-range Radeon HD 5750 card and Nvidia’s high-range GTX 470 card.

You can download both replays here:

1v1 | 2v2

We measured the minimum, average and maximum frames per second (FPS) in each test. The more powerful a system is, the more frames it can churn out in a given time frame. In the 1v1 game, we started measuring at minute 5:00 in the game and stopped at the end. For the 2v2 game, recording started at minute 26:00 and lasted till the end once more. If you wish to replicate our test with your system, download Fraps, play the replay until the aforementioned time point, hit the Fraps benchmark hotkey while simultaneously unpausing the game (Hotkey “P”), and let it record on “Faster” speed until the of the replay.

RESULTS

We began by benchmarking the GTX 460 and quickly noticed that it’s highly CPU-bottlenecked when tested on the main benchmarking system with the relatively old C2D E6700 CPU, even with its high overclock speed. Therefore, to make future tests more GPU-dependent, all tests were conducted with “Physics” turned off and “Effects” turned to low, as both of these options rely mostly on the CPU.

To start things off, we compared the different cards to see how the GTX 460 holds up against them. We used the highest quality settings – without anti-aliasing (AA) or anisotropic filtering (AF), as the ATI drivers don’t support them in StarCraft 2 – to make sure the different graphics cards show their strength.

Since StarCraft 2 isn’t a particularly graphics-intensive game, it’s not entirely surprising to see the $229 GTX 460 performing almost as well as the much more expensive, $350 GTX 470. It’s also easy to see that our 2v2 test was heavily influenced by the CPU, as the different cards show very little difference between them in the minimum FPS measurement.

Next, we evaluated the GTX 460’s performance using different quality settings and added a test to determine the effect of fullscreen windowed mode as well.

While lowering the resolution and decreasing the quality clearly has an effect on speed, the GTX 460 is more than able to take on the high resolution and maximum graphics quality settings and allow for smooth play. Throwing anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering into the mix and further increasing image quality still allows an acceptable gaming experience, though the intensive 2v2 test brings the minimum FPS level below what we’d recommend for serious gameplay. For those of you who are playing on struggling systems, it is important to note that windowed fullscreen mode takes a significant toll on performance. While it makes quickly tabbing out of the game easy, it’s definitely not worth it if it means the game itself becomes less playable. (Extra note: using an SSD makes tabbing out and back in, in normal fullscreen mode, much faster!)

Next comes the overclock test. As we mentioned, the GTX 460 is an amazing overclocker. Using the EVGA Precision overclocking program, our card easily achieved a 21% increase in core clock and 18% increase in memory clock – and we were quite conservative about pushing it! Using GPUTool and HWmonitor to stress test and monitor the card, we quickly increased the speeds until finding a stable point.

And off we were again to test the card! We chose to compare the most intensive graphics settings, running the ultra quality with AA and AF benchmark.


The GTX 460 benefits very nicely from overclocking, though the system is still clearly bottlenecked by the CPU. The most amazing find in our overclocking test, though, is the fact that the GTX 460 is almost completely unfazed by the extra speeds! Temperatures and fan speed at maximum operation levels remain almost exactly the same as when operating at standard levels; a 2-3C degree change at most, and almost 30C degrees below the maximum operating temperature as stated by Nvidia. What this means is that this level of overclocking can be applied indefinitely, increasing the value of this incredible card even further.

Lastly, we tested the GTX 460 on a system with an extremely fast CPU – Intel’s recent i7 design, running at 3.8GHz. It doesn’t get much faster than that, and it showed in this benchmark.

As we suspected, the mainstream system with the relatively old CPU is indeed quite bottlenecked by it. When installed on the newer system, the GTX 460 shows just how held back it was before, and confirms that it is more than sufficient to handle anything StarCraft 2 can throw at it. To get more information about different CPUs and their effect on StarCraft 2 performance, check out Techspot’s excellent writeup on the subject.

At this point of our analysis, we can whole-heartedly confirm Nvidia’s claim: to play StarCraft 2 at the highest quality settings, one does not need more than Nvidia’s new ~$200 offering – the GTX 460. And not only StarCraft 2, mind you; other reviewers have already crowned the GTX 460 as the “$200 king”.

CONCLUSIONS

In order to get the best performing computer for StarCraft 2 without going overboard with the expenditure, one should get:

1) An Intel i5-760 processor – another $200 wonder. Since StarCraft 2 only utilizes two cores, quad core CPUs such as the one used in our faster test system are somewhat of an overkill for it and for most other games. The 750 is the current sweetspot for Intel CPUs – despite its four cores, its price/performance ratio is hard to beat even in a dual core limited game – and it can also be heavily overclocked, which leads us to

2) A nice CPU heatsink/fan combo. We recommend one of the following models for their high price/performance ratio, quiet idle noise levels, and relatively powerful cooling abilities. Our first test system is equipped with a Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B, as can be seen in the picture above. Our second test system sports a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. The Xigmatek HDT-S1283 is a nice solution that’s cheaper.

3) An LGA 1156 board such as the one in our new test system or an Asus P7P55.

4) A good graphics card. It’s hard to not recommend the GTX 460 we reviewed here – it certainly does an amazing job and can handle everything StarCraft 2 can throw at it even at the maximum quality settings. At the $200-$250 price range, choosing the GeForce GTX 460 is a no-brainer.


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Continuing our Strategy Overview series with the Terran race, we explore commonly used strategies in mid to high level of play in StarCraft 2. The Terran race is a totally different animal from the Protoss race previously explored here, and, therefore, the format will not be exactly the same as before – the rugged space hicks are actually not as straightforward as they seem!

To start off, we’ll focus on the common rush-type openings, before moving on to the more general gameplay strategies.

Reaper Rush

The Reaper, The Terran’s jetpack-equipped infantry unit, has been hotly discussed from day one. This super fast, ranged, cliff-jumping, light-damage dealing, tier 1.1 unit takes down workers in three rapid shots and can infiltrate an enemy mineral line before he’s able to produce a single unit. The fastest variation calls for building a Barracks and Refinery before the first supply depot, attaching a tech-lab to it and getting a Reaper out as soon as possible.

Since this is an economy-crippling build, the goal in this rush is to inflict more economy damage to the opponent than the Terran player has sacrificed for it. In low-mid levels of play, groups of 2-3 Reapers will be gathered first before an attack. However, in higher level play, players can smell a Reaper rush a mile away, and so, the Terran player will send his first Reaper to attack as soon as it emerges from the Barracks.

Doing it wrong: Reapers approach the Terran choke head-onYou’re doing it wrong

Reapers are basically invulnerable to tier 1 melee units and can kite those forever while taking shots at them if proper micromanagement is applied. The only exceptions are Zerglings on creep and Speedlings, which can catch up with the Reapers and quickly surround them. Still, with the Reapers’ ability to jump up and down cliffs, their survivability and harassment potential are greatly increased.

Some are calling it the “Terran 6pool” because of the somewhat obnoxious feeling one gets from being attacked before any defensive capabilities are available. However, just like early Zergling rushes, Reaper rushes can be defended against as well if one scouts ahead and prepares accordingly.

Counters:

  • A single Stalker or Marauder in the mineral line, Roaches
  • ~2 Marines per Reaper
  • A Spine Colony or Photon Cannon + whatever units are at hand to chase the Reapers

Fast Banshees

Banshees, the Terran’s rotor-spaceships, are somewhat slow and can’t take a lot of hits, but dish out damage at an incredible rate. Despite being relatively high on the tech tree, the Terran’s walling-off abilities make this strategy both relatively safe and hard to scout. Getting these out to the field quickly gives the Terran player a good chance to find his opponent lacking any meaningful anti-air capabilities. With more than a couple at hand, the Banshees are very capable at hit and run attacks against anti-air defenses and units, wearing down the opponent until the mineral line is exposed and the workers are good for the picking. However, even single Banshees can take out their immediate counters in one on one battles – Both Queens and Stalkers lose to a Banshee in a head-on fight, and groups of Marines are not guaranteed to repel it as well. When the defenses go down, two Banshee volleys are enough to kill one worker! If that wasn’t enough, delaying the Banshee attack a little longer can allow the Terran player to research Cloak for it, making its harassment (and game ending-potential) even more effective.

Counters:

  • Missile Turrets with Marines, quick Vikings with Ravens
  • Spore Colonies, quick Hydralisks with Overseers
  • Photon Cannons, Stalkers with Observers added later on

Marine Rush

As simple as it gets. Get a bunch of trusty Marines and send them to the enemy base, mowing down everything on the way. This build was very uncommon in the early days of the beta – the simplest things are sometimes hardest to see – but it’s been gaining traction as of late, despite the nerf to the Marine build time in patch #6. After getting a first Barracks and an Orbital Command, three more Barracks are quickly added (before the second Supply Depot, for brave players) and Marines start being produced in masses. The gang heads out to the enemy base, trying to take advantage of their long weapon range and concentrated DPS to quickly and painlessly take down any target of opportunity. With some micro inserted into the mix, the Marines will run back a bit after each firing cycle: this makes them take less hits from melee units and prevent them from getting surrounded as well as makes it harder for shorter ranged units to engage with their full attack potential. When the Terran player finally pushes his Marine force into the enemy base – usually supplemented by more and more waves of rallied reinforcements – the opportunity to deal a knock-out blow to the enemy economy is great, and the game is often decided right at that point.

Counters:

  • Bunkers, especially with Reapers OR very quick Siege Tanks
  • Banelings, Roaches and/or Spine Crawlers in sufficient numbers
  • Quick Colossus, dancing Stalkers, Cannons + Force Field in chokes, Charging Zealots

Hellion Opening

Hellions, the StarCraft 2 Firebat/Vulture hybrid, have been seeing more and more use throughout all stages of the game. Still, one of their most effective uses is early in the game, where few offensive units are available. Their linear splash damage effect makes them particularly suitable for killing workers – especially if these try to run away – and makes the Hellion one of the units most benefiting from good micromanagement. The Terran player will get a fast Factory right after the first Barracks, on which a Reactor addon is pre-built, and then move the Factory over it to quickly start pumping out Hellions for a devastating drive-by on the enemy economy. With their bonus damage against light targets, the Hellions remain very handy later on, if Zerglings, Banelings, Hydralisks, Zealots, and Dark Templars come into play. While the Hellions can’t survive many hits, their relatively long range allows them to stay safely behind the rest of the Terran army, scorching enemy units without inflicting friendly fire damage in the process.

Upgraded Hellions devastate the Protoss worker line

Counters

  • Blocked ramps and choke points (units on Hold Position work well!)
  • Static defense in the mineral line

Standard M3 Ball

Ahh, the dreaded M&M&M army. Much has been said about this unit composition – comprising Marines, Marauders and Medivacs – and not surprisingly so, as it can be seen in the vast majority of Terran games, in all match-ups. The reason, of course, is the incredible robustness and all-roundedness of this build – and some would say: ease of use. The M3 ball, composed of easy to mass units, capable in both defense and offense, mobile to the extreme yet beefy enough for a stand-up fight, is clearly the “correct” go-to strategy in many situations. With Marauders dishing out heavy anti-armor damage, Marines – the highest DPS/cost ranged unit in the game, who have a great anti-air weapon – and Medivacs, the mobility and healing granting fliers, the M3 ball can be where it needs quickly, counter almost any unit composition, and stay alive long enough to get the job done. With the three upgrades added – Combat Shields, Concussive Shells and Stim Packs – the ball can serve many Terran players for the entire match.

Perfect Combo - A big MMM Blog with a Thor on the side

When building up for an M3 ball, one would best be served by quickly setting up two extra Barracks after upgrading to an Orbital Command. One Barracks should have the Reactor addon while the other two get a Tech-Lab. From then on, pumping out units is an easy affair, and the ball is quickly formed by continually building two Marauders and two Marines at a time. This build allows the production of a relatively heavy army while still teching up and/or getting unit upgrades – a must for a dedicated M3 ball. When a small complement of M&Ms is gathered, a Starport is built to supplement them with Medivacs.

The M3 ball is made! This well-rounded army can then push out, look for weaknesses in enemy positions, drop on unsuspecting mineral lines, or serve as cannon fodder for Siege Tanks.

Counters

  • Siege Tanks, Cloaked Banshees
  • Fungal Growth, Banelings + Swarm, Brood Lords in the late game
  • Colossi or Psi-Storm with Charging Zealots

Mid-game transitions: Siege Tanks, Thors

Once the Terran player has opened with one of the above and successfully transitioned into the mid-game, the time comes to choose a unit composition that will best serve the next transition – into a victory, or at least into the late-game. The Terran race has a variety of options and answers for all situations, but some counters are very hard and serve almost no purpose against anything but their intended targets.

Siege Tanks

The Siege Tank, one of the Terran’s most symbolic units, returns to serve the same role in StarCraft 2 – ground-control and crowd-control. With the huge damage and splash effect, Siege Tanks are effective in all numbers, whether by softening up enemy units for an M&M blob or by completely denying an area of the battlefield from ground units when large enough numbers are used. Often, the Terran player will quickly get a couple of Siege Tanks after settling into the game and march straight towards the enemy base, slowly wearing him down with the help of the incredible long range of the sieged-up tank artillery cannon. From then, the Terran player is a Siege-Tank push away from victory – slowly leap-frogging the Siege Tanks closer and closer to where it hurts while keeping the enemy contained inside his base.

Counters

  • Siege Tanks, Banshees
  • Swarming the tanks when they unsiege, Brood Lords
  • Immortals, Phoenix Gravity Beam, Dark Templars, carefully managed Charging Zealots

Thors

The Terran Thor, still a menacing unit despite the recent size cut, has slowly managed to find a niche on the battlefield, thanks to some patched-in changes to its attributes and a greater understanding of its role in the game a couple of months into the beta. Despite its cost, the Thor has many advantages and is very useful in many army compositions – and sometimes, even just by itself.

Thor Doom Drop an Unsuspecting Protoss

Since the Thor is able to take down many units – including workers – in one volley of its cannons, Thor drops can actually be very effective if done right. A Terran producing a Thor quickly and dropping it on an enemy mineral line will rack up a few worker kills easily and will also be able to deal with many offensive units unless they swarm him all together – in which case, it’s back to the Medivac.

Thors are also a great addition to an M&M ball when deciding to push out with one. Its great anti-air attack, which deals area-of-effect damage in a small radius, is a perfect complement to Marines against flying threats such as the Mutalisk and Banshee. The Thor’s special Strike Cannon ability is great when dealing with other Massive targets, since, despite not dealing much more DPS than its normal attack, the bombardment stuns the unit in place until it dies. Also, since abilities ignore the Immortal’s hardened shield, the Strike Cannons destroy a fully-shielded Immortal in one use.

What is the Standard

When Terran players wish to play it safe and solid, they’ll often wall-up inside their base while gathering the standard M&M force. Constantly scouting the enemy, additional units will supplement this basic army to counter upcoming threats to the Terran infantry: Hellions for masses of light units, mainly Zerglings, Banelings and Zealots; Vikings for heavy air units, such as Brood Lords, Void Rays, Carriers and Battlecruisers, as well for decapitating Colossi; Siege Tanks to deal with masses of tier 1-2 units; Thors to deal with light-air swarms; and eventually, Battlecrusiers to put the hurt on everything or break down turtles. Some pressure can be applied using Reapers, Banshees or Hellions, as described above, until the Terran player is ready to seal the deal with a well-timed push.

Addendum: Terran as the Real Infestation

While fighting the Zerg often feels like dealing with bugs that keep harassing you all over and are impossible to get rid of, the Terran race can actually play the infestation game just as well, “infesting” the battlefield and never releasing their hold on it. The Terrans have always been the turtle-friendly choice, but in StarCraft 2, thanks to some new tools and additional mobility, the turtle can now more easily spread around and hold more and more of the battlefield. Almost every Terran unit can be treated like a mobile turret with various properties designed to keep enemies away from the Terran mining operations. Their units have the longest range, their buildings are bulky and durable, and their static defenses – Bunkers, Missile Turrets and Planetary Fortresses, provide the most robust defense.

The Thor often makes more sense when seen as a walking turret, patrolling the base and guarding it from Mutalisk invasions; Vikings, one of the slower flying units, have an incredible range of 9, and are more than suitable for taking down Void Rays trying to penetrate the Terran base before they even think of charging up. With Siege Tanks, the building armor upgrade, the Raven’s Point Defense Drone and Auto-Turret, and the amazing staying power of infantry backed by healing Medivacs, a well-built Terran fortress is indeed the hardest to break.

Fortressing - Terran Player claims the high yield

A Terran player playing the infestation game will periodically take over an expansion, sending many SCVs to quickly put down defenses and buildings as well as Siege Tanks and the other necessary walking/flying turrets to secure the area. The purpose, of course, is to create a stronghold that the enemy will have to spend many more resources to remove than it took to secure. Slowly taking over the map while occasionally harassing the enemy, this strategy is often hard to deal with even if it’s seen coming.

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The StarCraft 2 beta patch #12 has been released and applied, followed by a detailed Situation Report from Blizzard’s developers. This one touches upon only three units and one building, and we can’t help but notice the spirit of the carebare pervading throughout the patch notes and their explanations.

Protoss


Forge


Build time increased from 35 to 45.

Life and shield values decreased from 550/550 to 400/400.

Situation Report:

We are seeing a Photon Cannon rush against protoss and zerg. Against protoss, players usually use a cliff edge or the enemy minerals in combination with their forge to protect their pylon. Against zerg, you can use the Forge and Pylon to block the zerg player’s ramp. We have a few numbers we can tweak to fix this, build time on the Forge being the most obvious. However if we make the build time too high it will be difficult to panic build a Forge and Cannons to block a badly played cloak attack. So we are going to try a mixture of health nerfs to the Forge and a small timing change.

Indeed, offensive Protoss Cannons, Terran Bunkers, and Orc Towers are all viable strategic choices. These have always existed in the tactical inventory of players in many games. As virtually any other strategy, be it a Zergling rush or a fast Nuke build, once executed correctly versus an unprepared opponent, it will yield a victory.

Mothership


Vortex now removes Force Fields within its area of effect.

Starcraft Scientist strikes again… for the first time!

Situation Report

Vortex continues to be an exciting ability with some known issues. Limiting how Force Fields are used around Vortexes will help fix a few exploitable situations. Our thanks go to the community for continuing to find and report issues with it. =)

This change is a nerf aimed at a tactic that requires the following:

  • A Mothership and a well placed Vortex.
  • Multiple Protoss Sentries casting Force Fields around the Vortex.
  • Several Colossi and/or High Templars focusing on the resulting trap.

If someone pulls this off, does he not deserve to inflict the terrible, terrible damage?

TERRAN


Thor


Radius decreased from 1.375 to 0.8125.

Model size reduced to match new radius.


Situation Report:


We have reduced the physical and pathing size of the Thor just to make him more useable. This will end up being a minor buff to the Thor (which he didn’t really need). We made the change just to make him less frustrating to use. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this change plays out and if Thors become too dominant we will deal with them in other ways in future patches.

As discussed in the recent massive Q&A session with the devs, the Thor had some issues with its humongousity. This change helps a lot in controlling the Thor, which now has a much more standard size. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as awe-inspiring and fear-inducing as before.

Before:

After:

ZERG


Roach


Supply count increased from 1 to 2.

Many have been surprised by the recent, arguably hardest to date, nerf to the Zerg Roach. The Situation Report delivers an interesting rationale to the Roach’s food cost doubling, blaming 200 supply clashes.

Roaches are just too mighty to be a 1 supply unit. In 200 supply battles Roaches can be very difficult to deal with even with the correct counters in play by protoss or terran players.

Of course, the nerf also applies to the early game, where players will have to dedicate more Larva to Overlord production, also making each Roach cost an additional 12.5 minerals.

The Roach change caused quite a stir on Battle.net’s forums, prompting Nethaera to post the following:

As we mentioned in the original post, all changes we have planned are not in yet and we have been trying to be careful about layering them in and watching the results closely. This patch is no different and we have more coming down the pipe before much longer. StarCraft II is like an onion with many layers, but instead of peeling the layers, we’re adding them in like paper mâché only without the messy flour paste and with a slightly less predictable outcome.

More changes are promised, with everyone’s attention focused on the Ultralisk. What will happen to the Zerg race next?

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