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The fourth Battle Report has been officially released! The battle report has been leaked to the net a couple of days ago, but now’s your chance to download a high-quality version straight from Blizzard’s official page, where you can also opt to watch it streaming along with the transcription of the shoutcast. The current Battle Report takes place in the StarCraft 2 incarnation of the legendary Lost Temple – an original StarCraft 2v2 ladder map that was extremely popular for 1v1s as well.

Lost Temple

StarCraft 2’s version of the Lost Temple has the following distinctive terrain features:

  • Very narrow main base choke points
  • Unlike the classic version, the top player’s natural expansion is placed to the left, at 11:00, instead of 01:00
  • Two Xel’Naga watch towers are placed at key center locations
  • Destructible Rocks block high yield mineral mining spots
  • High ground locations have been “standardized” to eliminate the original Lost Temple’s slight imbalances

The match itself is as fast and brutal as all StarCraft 2 games we’ve witnessed to this point. However, it was different in some key aspects, many dependent on the nature of the map, which has most of the minerals in the surrounding areas and a large open space in the middle.

It was very apparent that the Terran player, David Kim, prepared for a long game. He invested in an Orbital Command to call down Mules and gain an economic advantage very early on – just after constructing his first Barracks, in fact. Later, only 5 minutes into the game, he builds two command centers concurrently, floating one to his natural and another to the island. The Protoss player, Yeon-Ho Lee, had his natural expansion up at that point as well. The Terran also carefully blocked the entrance to his main base using the crucial “Gateway” Supply Depots, denying the Protoss important information about his base and making any early attack virtually impossible.

Double Command Center next to the blocked ramp

The battles between the two opponents went back and forth with their large standing armies, but also took place in their naked home fronts. Both players successfully harassed each other’s mineral lines many times, scoring important hits and damaging the enemy economy.

Standing Armies

In a devastating move, the Protoss player easily sent an undisturbed Phase Prism over to the Terran’s island expansion, knocking it out without even needing to load it up with troops first – just by acting as a power generator and warping in four Zealots from four Warpgates. The Terran player was the clear master of harassment, though, using the superfast Hellions to sneak past defensive lines, dropping units all over the enemy mineral lines and hidden cliffs, using stimmed reapers for hit and run attacks, and finishing with some extraordinary terrible, terrible damage…

Hellion Drop

The two players were able to set up impressive economies, and the battle remained undecided very late into the match. The Protoss player made impressive use of the new Psi-Storm, making short work of the Terran player’s tier 1 army, and did a great job constantly being on the attack.

Holy Psi-Storm, Batman!

Unfortunately, his late game unit use showed that he’s not an expert Protoss player, choosing to use Colossi and Stalkers against the armored Thors and against Marauders, which have a bonus against armored units. As well, and as Dustin comments, he fails to use the High Templar’s new Phase Shift ability, which would have taken out individual Thors out of battles, leaving the reduced Terran army crippled. A smart use of Immortals, which are resistant to the highly damaging attacks of the Thors, coupled with Phase Shift, might have made all the difference in this one.

Thor vs Colossus

However, what really sealed the deal was David Kim’s expert use of a single Ghost riding in a single Medivac Dropship. This successful team managed to drop 5 Nukes in succession, utterly devastating the Protoss Player’s economy, Warpgate farm, expansions, and will to fight. No screengrabs for these, since it will not do the effect justice! This paved the way for the Terran forces to walk all over the leftovers, prompting a “gg” from Yeon-Ho Lee.

Indeed, Nukes are no longer the “coup de grace” weapon of StarCraft 1, but an amazing tactical weapon to be used in normal games, with the potential to turn the tide of battle if used correctly.

A very interesting and intense game, once again dominated by David Kim. When will he be dethroned? Perhaps in the upcoming beta…

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The 3rd, and best yet, StarCraft 2 Battle Report has been officially released. An epic clash between the Protoss and Zerg on Scrap Yard – a brand new StarCraft 2 map with very distinctive design and terrain features. The game is fast-paced, with the first conflict taking place just two minutes into the game.

StarCraft Battle Report 3 Opening

David Kim, associate game balance designer, has shown that he can handle the Protoss race just as well after winning the last Battle Report game as the Terran. He shines with the Protoss, handling their forces in an intelligent manner and beautifully micromanages his few units to inflict maximum damage on the Zerg enemy. It’s so good, in fact, that in some points it’s hard to believe the game wasn’t orchestrated in advance.

Consistent with previous Battle Reports, this game also includes the unveiling of a new terrain feature, which was likely introduced due to the fact that Brush wouldn’t fit well on the metallic platforms where the battle at hand takes place.

Smoke

This brings the list of StarCraft 2 terrain features to:

Scrap Yard StarCraft 2 Map with Terrain Marks

*Green – Smoke . *Yellow Squares = Starting Spots. *Red = High Yield

The map’s topography puts the opponents very close to each other, separated by a gap of space and a bridge with a destructible rock barrier. Scrapyard’s smoke placement is somewhat similar to the brush placement in Blistering Sands of Battle Report 2, providing enemy forces with a retreat/regroup/ambush option at the very entrance of the main bases’ ramps. The ramps are wider than “normal”, which makes sealing them early on more expensive and complicated.

Battle Highlights:

  • Expansion harassment takes its toll on the Zerg player, preventing an early expansion and forcing the Zerg to expand 2 minutes later than planned.
  • The Nullifier, recently renamed “Disruptor“, is showcased as a potent defense and trapping tool, easily dealing with Zergling harassment at 6:05, and demonstrating beautiful divide & conquer tactics at 7:25-8:10 to cut the Zerg forces into manageable batches time after time. This unit has been used extensively and skillfully throughout the game, defensively and offensively, and looks to be a great addition to the Protoss arsenal of powerful units which benefit greatly from smart, precise use.

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Disruptors neatly divide the Zerg force down the middle

  • A Dark Pylon is seen in “action” near the Protoss main mineral line, enhancing the Probes’ harvest rate. This is a remnant from earlier build, before the Dark Pylon was replaced with the Obelisk.
  • Stalkers and Roaches clash around 9:00, with the Protoss micromanaging the Zerg forces into oblivion while continually warping in more and more forces to aid his outnumbered army, eventually chasing the Zerg forces down by blinking into range. The Roaches have also been used well, burrowing in and out of battle to avoid the death blow and quickly regenerate their health.

Protoss Counter Attacks by Chasing Down the Zerg Roaches

  • David proceeds with some Overlord hunting using his single Phoenix, but the Phoenix’ true value is shown when its Graviton beam renders the Zerg Queen helpless while a Void Ray quickly melts it down at 11:00.

Targetted assassination by the Phoenix/Void Ray combo

  • Banelings deliver a massive blow to the Protoss economy at 12:00, evaporating around a dozen Probes in a second.
  • The Protoss, on the counter-attack, decide to cut through the destructible rocks and make a shorter land path to the Zerg base… only to run into more cleverly burrowed Banelings, which quickly obliterate an entire company of bunched up Zealots.
  • The Zerg employs its mind-controlling Infestor for the first time at 14:12 to take control of the Protoss Immortal – a portent of things to come.
  • Total pwnage ensues at 15:55 when two Neural Parasite controlled Colossi “team up” with a hoard of Zerglings to eradicate a large self-trapped Protoss force.

Zerg Controlled Colossus

It’s at that very point of the Zerg’s triumph that the true nature of StarCraft becomes apparent. StarCraft 2 is first of all a macromanagement RTS, and virtually no amount of micromanaging will save a player lagging behind from defeat. The Protoss player has maintained an economic advantage throughout the game and is able to sustain heavy losses for the purpose of distracting his opponent while pressing the offensive on two other fronts, completely obliterating the Zerg’s economy just seconds after losing the major battle by warping forces right into the Zerg’s nearly-defenseless expansions. The Zerg quickly yields with a “gg” as this excellent match comes to an end.

This Battle Report represents StarCraft 2 a lot better than the previous two instances. Both players keep the pressure on each other throughout the match with every available resource, from the first Probe blocking the Zerg’s expansion to the Phoenix/Void Ray combo picking off key Zerg units. It’s very apparent that the Blizzard players have had a while to work on their game and have reached the point where they’re proficient with both the tactical and strategic aspects of it. No unit goes to waste and every ability is used to maximum utility, from the Stalkers’ Blink to the Disruptors’ well-placed Force Fields.

Another successful use of Force Field keeps the Zerg defense forces outside the Zerg base

Disruptors are definitely the surprise of this game, being built and magnificently used by the Protoss player before any other unit, replacing the Zealot in its traditional role as the Protoss’ first offensive unit. However, this does not mean that Disruptors are now required to play an effective Protoss game – both Zealots and Stalkers could easily be used alone or together in their stead to produce a viable early-game strategy.

With all signs pointing to the beta starting in the very near future, this Battle Report is great for exhibiting how far StarCraft 2 has already come. It shows that the game features all the strengths that made StarCraft 1 a masterpiece – and then adds some more into the mix.

Watch:

Battle Report 3 on StarCraft2.com

Download for Windows

Download for Mac

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The official Battle.net forums were flooded with many questions after the latest Battle Report, which constituted the first showcasing of StarCraft 2 in four months. Karune and the blues did their best to answer some important ones, which we have collected in this post.

First up, Cavez on the new Hydralisk melee attack:

It does not change the damage at all. It has the same attack rate and does exactly the same damage as the regular hydralisk attack. It is just visual.

Seeing how some of StarCraft’s units already had a different attack depending on whether the target was on the ground or in the air, it’s not so much of a stretch to have units change their attack when approaching close-combat range. It will be interesting to see if this evolves into a different attack, stat wise – just like the difference between StarCraft 1’s Goliath ground and air attacks, and similar to the highly developed mechanism found in the Dawn of War RTS games.

For example, the Space Marine Dreadnought can use its flamers or long range assault cannons from a distance – but when it gets close enough, it starts grabbing enemy infantry units, crushing them in its giant, mechanical hands – dealing significantly more damage, and often killing them in one strike.

Dreadnaught crushing Banshees in its huge, mechanical hands

Next up, a bunch of Planetary Fortress goodness from Karune. When asked about its usefulness compared to the Orbital Command, he replied:

Currently in testing, the PF (Planetary Fortress) is already quite beefy – It’s ground attack has been buffed to 40 damage and has a 6 range. When upgrading to a PF, your command center also gets +2 building armor, making this building a very formidable obstacle, especially with 20 SCVs repairing at the same time. There have been many games I’ve seen the PF hold off raiding forces and sometimes even attacking forces by itself and SCVs. While I wouldn’t think it’d be wise to convert your first Command Center to a PF, converting strategic expansions could be helpful, such as those at high yields or may be farther away from the rest of your bases.

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On a side note cause I’m sure somebody is wondering this as well – the PF upgrade costs 150 minerals and 150 gas whereas the Orbital Command upgrade costs just 150 minerals. The PF prerequisite building is the Engineering Bay and the Orbital Command prerequisite building is the Barracks.

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The PF does splash damage as well.

The Planetary Fortress is a real beast. The Terran Command Center is one of the toughest buildings in the game as is, and transforming it into a splash-damage dealing, heavily armored fortress, which can be fixed by plenty of SCVs at the same time (due to its girth) will make Terran Expansions hard to take down without dedicated effort. It’s so powerful, in fact, that some use it for offensive purposes:

Yup, they make for some pretty humorous games, though keep in mind each one of these are a 550 minerals and 150 gas investment. It takes quite a bit of time to build + upgrade, but if you could pull it off early game (assuming your opponent does not scout) it will surely keep them bottled up until tier 2 or 3 where more mobility comes online. To mount an attack on a Planetary Fortress takes quite a good number of units. Usually it would be better to bypass it if you can.

This is of course more of a gimmick than a strategy that will have high success repetitively :)

Boxer, take notice.

Planetary Fortress. Don't mess with it.

Cydra has also confirmed that a Command Center with upgrades can not be salvaged – which effectively commits the player to the cost and permanent location of the upgraded Command Center.

Once you upgrade your Command Center to Orbital Command or Planetary Fortress, you can’t undo the upgrades. And you can’t salvage them.

This brings the list of limitations to:

  • Can’t be lifted.
  • Can’t be upgraded to a different setup or downgraded back to a Command Center (for lift-off purposes).
  • Can’t be Salvaged.

Cydra mentions the first known nerf to the Orbital Command‘s MULEs, which previously possessed the same attack as SCVs and had no line of sight calldown limitations.

True, as long as you have line of sight on the spot, you can drop MULE. On the enemy’s Siege Tanks, on a ramp, etc. However MULE can’t attack or repair.

It’s worth noting that the Orbital Command’s calldown subject has changed from being an ordinary mule to being a MULE. The all uppercase MULE is an acronym, perhaps a reference to Lockheed Martin’s  Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE) vehicle, but it’s just as likely to be Blizzard’s small tribute to the legendary M.U.L.E multiplayer video game of 1983.

Central to the game is the acquisition and use of “M.U.L.E.”s (Multiple Use Labor Element) to develop and harvest resources from the player’s real estate. Depending on how it is outfitted, a M.U.L.E. can be configured to harvest Energy, Food, Smithore (from which M.U.L.E.s are constructed), and Crystite (a valuable mineral available only at the “Tournament” level).

Karune has clarified that the Baneling’s method of transportation in the recent Battle Report – walking – is there to help differentiate it from upgraded Banelings, which roll instead.

Yes. In the current build, Banelings are no longer roll but once they get the movement speed upgrade, they have the rolling animation.

Walking Banelings

Lastly, Cydra reconfirms some previously-revealed information regarding the Nighthawk and the Xel’Naga Watch Tower, while adding tidbits clarifying its behavior around Infested Marines and the Nighthawk’s deployables:

Nighthawk has the detecting ability.

Xel’Naga Watch Tower only can be activated by the ground units.
Infested Marine can activate the Xel’Naga Watch Tower but Auto-Turret can’t.

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The second installment of the StarCraft 2 Battle Report series delivered. With both players being “StarCraft II team’s associate game balance designers“, there was little time wasted on figuring things out and both proceeded to pound each other aggressively throughout the game.

Battle Report 2

Just like the first Battle Report, the map chosen for this match also includes plenty of novelties which weren’t part of StarCraft I’s terrain:

The brand new Brush terrain acts as a line-of-sight barrier; an artificial cliff on plain ground. There are a few obvious usages for it:

  • Retreating units to find cover from ranged pursuers.
  • Approaching long-range heavy hitters without taking damage.
  • Ambushing with either Melee or Ranged units – without scouting, units can easily wander into a close range trap.

Blistering Sands StarCrarft 2 Map

*Green – Brush. *Yellow Squares = Starting Spots. *Yellow Circles = Natural Expansions. *Red = High Yield

Blistering Sands includes Brush on top of the second access ramp to the players’ bases, providing a secondary line of defense in case the ramp gets overtaken. Next to each ramp there is another Brush, which is used as a retreating path for attackers. The Zerg player puts it to good use at [8:41] to lose the pursuing Terran Reapers.

The game includes active use of the recently introduced Macro “Buffs” – and indeed, these are no longer chores but decisions made by players to alter their production and resource gathering rates. The Zerg Queens spawns additional larva at [5:13] to initiate a counter attack against the early Terran offensive, and the Terran puts the Mules to good use in his new expansion at [19:50].

StarCraft 2 Mules

The Battle includes several interesting battles, which shed a lot of light on the Terran’s new best friend – Splash Damage. We’ve mentioned before how the Terran appear to have a lot of Area of Effect attacks “on paper” … well, this match showcases this nicely, without even featuring any ground vehicles.

The Reaper’s Detonation Charges coupled with Banelings cause a mutual annihilation of armies at [10:25], a Nighthawk self-destructs on Banelings in what was confirmed to be a Hunter Seeker Missile mishap at [14:50], and Zerg dancing ensues when the Terran goes missile-happy at [18:30].

Mutual Destruction - Zerg and Terran in their natural enviroment

The Zerg got a chance to showcase many of their new abilities, with Banelings receiving plenty of air time throughout the whole game. With infantry receiving NO HEALING, the Banelings’ splash and the regenerating Roaches usually had the upper hand on the Terran M&M (that’s Marauders and Marines now), which later managed to push the Zerg back only with the help of some Aerial support.

Notable features, changes and abilities in this Battle Report include:

  • Infestors can spawn Infested Terrans (ranged Infantry unit), no infestation needed. Appear to pop out in groups of five.
  • Burrowing does not save you from Hunter-Seeker Missiles.
  • Each Marauder takes up two out of four slots when placed inside a bunker. [13:31]
  • Zerg Banelings don’t roll, but walk into targets.
  • The Zerg’s defensive structure, the Spine Crawler, has relatively fast movement speed, but long burrow-setup time [7:15]
  • Terran Mules insta-mine crystals, and emerge from drop-pods ralatively quickly when called for.
  • The Zerg Hydralisk appears to have a Melee attack now, and one is clearly seen here clawing away at a Terran Auto-Turret.

The map’s new qualities play an important and integral role throughout the match. Many battles are waged around the Xel’Naga watch towers as units tend to gravitate towards it to receive the benefit of its sight range. The Zerg player put constant pressure on the Terran’s secondary choke point in order to take out the barrier blocking the path leading directly into his base. The Brush was used effectively as a cut off point on open terrain and created another position of interest on the map that a skillful player could exploit.

Collectively, the new terrain features have a great impact on the way the game is played. Every map now comes with a well defined selection of key points which grant certain units and races an advantage by default. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard decides to introduce additional terrain features in the future, to take the game even further in this direction.

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