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Another long pause between updates to StarCraft2.com is behind us. Today, the site has been updated with a page for the Terran’s Sensor Tower.

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

Top terran military analysts all agree that “Knowing is half the battle” and that early warning is one of the keys to victory. The sensor tower is a vital tool for long-range surveillance of enemy movement and the detection of stealthed aggressors. Sensor towers are a lynchpin of terran base defenses, and as such, they need to be heavily guarded. A smart attacker will try to destroy sensor towers as the first priority.

The Sensor Tower is a new building for the Terran “race” in StarCraft 2. Currently, it serves as both a detector and a fog of war scanner, revealing enemy units that would otherwise not be visible to the Terran commander. Units in the Sensor’s scanning radius are presented as exclamation points. We first saw this ability in action in the BlizzCon Terran video – watch the video and read our analysis of it here.

Fog of war detection used to be a feature of the Radar Tower, which was the upgraded form of the Sensor Tower. With its role now taken by the Sensor Tower, the Radar Tower may no longer be a part of the game.

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The Sensor Tower fills a very important strategic role which fits the unique style of the Terran race perfectly. The Terrans, masters of unit deployment and positioning, greatly benefit from the ability to acquire real-time intelligence information from the battlefield. A smart Terran player will know how to quickly analyze the gathered information and utilize his units to counter any threat much more effectively.

The Tower’s sensing ability, coupled with its stealth detection capabilities, makes this building a good investment for every Terran player in almost every StarCraft 2 match. We are sure to see them proliferate quickly, starting minutes into every battle.

 

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The Sensor Tower will make the lives of Terran commanders easy early in the game, when tactics that can easily and efficiently cripple a player are usually attempted. The dreaded Reaver Drop may no longer be present in the game (at least, until Blizzard caves in to fan pressure), but other types of sneak attacks – be they from the ground (Reapers), air (Mutalisks) or cloaked (Dark Templars) – will be negated by diverting enough resources to construct Sensor Towers in strategic positions.

The downside to all this multi-spectrum output is that foes can easily detect the presence of a sensor tower and use it to identify the whereabouts of a terran base. Other strategies revolve around “spoofing” the tower with decoy units or simply staying outside its range. Terran commanders have been known to counter by erecting sensor towers in fake base locations just to keep enemies guessing.

Radar capabilities were already present in earlier RTS games, such as Total Annihilation, as we have discussed in our “StarCraft 2 Influences” article. It seems that StarCraft’s implementation is unique, however – the Sensor Tower’s radar seems very limited in range, and only the Terrans have access to it. We are not surprised to see another pre-existing RTS idea perfectly implemented into a Blizzard game, of course.

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Blizzard has launched the Terran page on the StarCraft2.com site. Currently, it only features four units and one building: Marine, Reaper, Ghost, Viking, and Command Center. The page will likely be updated with new units weekly, as was done with the Protoss so far.

The Terran have proven that they can adapt and evolve as well as the Zerg do. Their new arsenal of units shows how the Terran have managed to learn from their mistakes and as well as from the successes, allowing the cunning human engineers to design new capable and effective counters to both Protoss and Zerg forces.

 

Marine:

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Trains From: Barracks
Armament: 8mm C-14 Impaler Gauss Rifle
Role: General-purpose Infantry

The Marine will continue fulfilling his role as the backbone of the Terran army in StarCraft 2. Even though the Marine is the first buildable combat unit, large numbers of them usually stay in the fight for the entirety of the game.

Marines are the first line of defense for most terran worlds in the Koprulu sector. In the time of the old Confederacy the vast majority of marines were criminals or rebels who had undergone mandatory neural resocialization. Freed from any previous allegiances or ideologies, these fearless soldiers stood ready to defend Confederate interests with their lives.

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Marines are normally armed with C-14 Impaler gauss rifles that fire 8mm metal “spikes” at hypersonic speeds. Basic rounds are designed to provide maximum penetration against all armor types, but a number of specialized rounds exist. Of these, the U-238 depleted uranium spike is the most popular because it extends the lethal range of gauss rifles by up to 25%.

It has been confirmed that the range upgrade for the Marines will appear in StarCraft 2, increasing their range from 4 to 5.

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The Stim Pack ability is also making a return. This isn’t very surprising, as it has always been one of the cooler abilities in StarCraft and practically a trademark of the Marine forces. Fortunately for the Marines, and the Terran players who abuse them, the Brood War Medics are making a return, and will be on watch when the stimmed Marines crash down after a long night of partying fighting.

If the practice of using resocialized marines has remained controversial, the use of stimpacks is even more of a hot-button subject. These inbuilt chemical delivery systems dose marines with a powerful mix of synthetic adrenaline, endorphins, and a psychotropic aggression enhancer. Marines on stims benefit from greatly increased speed and reflexes, but are subject to long-term side effects including and not limited to insomnia, weight loss, mania/hypomania, seizures, paranoiac hallucinations, internal hemorrhaging, and cerebral deterioration. Nonetheless, both commanders and the marines themselves stand by the use of stims as essential to their continued survival and effectiveness on the battlefield.

 

Reaper:

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Trains From: Barracks
Armament: P-45 Scythe Gauss Pistols, D-8 Charges
Role: Raider

Reapers are fast, mobile, hit and run units. Their jet packs allow them fast travel over normally unpassable terrain, such as cliffs, crevices and other ground obstacles. The Reapers were first seen in the original gameplay video, where a large pack of them raided a group of Immortals and quickly took them down.

Reaper troopers are chemically altered to make them even more aggressive before being subjected to weeks of brutal training in close-quarters combat and the use of their jet packs. A reaper who survives two years of duty is granted a full pardon and freed, his debt to society fully paid. In five years of service, the Reaper Corps has yet to have a single trooper survive more than six months.

 

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Reapers have another ability – D-8 charges. These were previously mistaken for mines, meant to replace the vulture spider mine ability. We know now that this is in fact a timed explosive, thrown by the Reapers, created to help them take down large targets.

In combat, reapers attack with dual gauss pistols, the rapid-fire signature weapon of their “strike fast, strike hard” credo. For tougher targets, reapers are often equipped with the dangerously unstable deuterium-eight demolition device, or D-8 charges, as they are commonly known. These can be thrown a short distance and will detonate after an equally short delay.

Reapers are relatively vulnerable – their strength lies in their speed, which allows them to pick their battles effectively.

Reapers are lightly armored and unsuited to head-on firefights. The key to their success lies in their personal jet packs. These packs grant reapers a high degree of mobility… Reaper combat techniques emphasize hit-and-run raiding, preferably against enemy structures and workers, so that reapers can inflict maximum damage and then retreat before the enemy can muster a response.

Like the Marines, Reapers can gain the Stim Pack ability, which is researched in the Tech Lab addon to the Barracks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly reapers are also enthusiastic users of stimpacks. The dangerous cocktail of combat enhancement chemicals suits their high-speed tactics perfectly, and the long-term side effects are scarcely likely to prove an issue.

 

Ghost:

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Trains From: Barracks
Armament: 25mm C-10 Canister Rifle
Role: Stealth Sniper

The Ghost is a specialized Terran unit. It is not meant to be used in heavy battles. Instead, it covertly operates around the battlefield, strategically affecting it in indirect ways.

Ghosts channel their psionic energies to augment their natural physical strength and endurance. This process is enhanced by specialized skin-suits worn by ghosts that are laced with a form of psi-sensitive artificial muscle fiber. Thus, a typical ghost is tougher, stronger, and faster than even a well-trained but otherwise average terran.

 

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The StarCraft 2 Ghost has retained its ability to call down Nukes. The Ghost points its laser target painter to a specified location. This directs the nuke to a landing site, assuming the Ghost survives long enough for it to lock on to the target. The Ghost can now use the same trick to signal a Drop Pod, containing 6 Marines, to drop down to the battlefield.

Another ability the Ghost now has utilizes its sniper rifle to deliver one devastating, critical blow to small, organic units.

On the battlefield, ghosts are rightly feared for their preternatural sniping ability with the C-10 canister rifle. An unwieldy weapon in the hands of others, the C-10 is capable of a one-shot kill when used by a ghost. Tactically ghosts’ primary responsibility is to locate enemy structures or units and eradicate them by calling down drop-pods or tactical nuclear weapons. The C-10 is equipped with an underslung low-frequency laser to pinpoint targets of such strikes.

Lastly, the Ghost can still cloak and move covertly around the battlefield. This ability constantly drains energy, however.

The most unnerving skill of these agents is their ability to cloak themselves from enemy sight. This “invisibility” has earned ghosts a fearsome reputation for their mysterious battlefield tactics. The psionically powered personal cloaking device is a special-issue item only available by request. Once equipped, the device meshes with the ghost’s hostile environment suit so that with an effort of will, the operative becomes entirely undetectable without the aid of specialized sensory equipment.

 

Viking:

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Builds From: Factory
Armament: Twin Gatling Cannon (assault mode)
MT50 Lanzer Torpedoes (fighter mode)
Role: Air Combat/Ground Support

The Viking replaces the Goliath as the Terran ground support/anti air unit. It can transform between a mech (assault) mode, where it uses twin gatling cannons against ground targets, and a flying (fighter) mode, where it uses air-to-air torpedoes.

The Brood War revealed critical weaknesses in terran anti-air capability. The new Wraith combat fighters and Valkyrie missile frigates proved to be an unwieldy combination against agile zerg airborne organisms. Ground-based anti-air support from goliath assault walkers was too limited in its mobility: all too often airborne attackers would simply move out of the goliath’s range and find less well-defended targets to destroy.

In the aftermath of the war, terran weapon technicians proposed a radical new concept to resolve both of these problems. Based heavily on the transformation design of the terran siege tank, the viking was designed to be the ultimate anti-air and ground-support weapon system. With the ability to change its combat role from an assault walker to an air-superiority fighter, the viking can switch smoothly to fulfill tactical needs in a developing battle.

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The high mobility of the viking has also led to its expanding beyond the limitations of ground support. Full-scale raids by viking squadrons can inflict devastating damage and are very problematic to counter. In order to defeat vikings, the enemy needs to bring a strong ground and air force to bear.

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Command Center:

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Builds: SCV

Command centers serve as the focal points for all terran outposts. Originally designed to be roving resource processors for Confederate prospectors, the command centers can pick up stakes and move on to new mineral or vespene deposits. They also have the ability to manufacture SCVs and serve as the return point for mining vehicles. Heavily armored and sturdy, the slow-moving command centers are most vulnerable when they are on the move.

 

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The Command Centers of StarCraft 2 can now carry up to 6 SCVs with them, while airborne.

Recent improvements have included the addition of bay facilities to carry a number of SCVs while the command center is in transit. This facilitates rapid exploitation of fresh mineral fields or vespene pockets, as well as supplying a handy shelter for the SCVs in case of enemy action.

Lastly, the Command Center, adapted to fill new Terran needs in light of constant, ongoing hostilities, can now be upgraded in two different ways, and take the name of “Surveillance Station” or “Planetary Fortress“.

The increasing use of command centers in combat zones has also led to the development of standard schematics for upgrading them to a dedicated military role. Two of the most popular upgrades with commanders are the surveillance station, which imparts a scanner sweep capability, and the planetary fortress with its increased armor and heavy defensive armament.

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Several interesting images were released via GameMeca’s website, including detailed images of Terran buildings and unit design, four original screenshots and a new Siege Tank concept art drawing.
After receiving much criticism for butchering the design of one of SC’s most original and beautiful units, Karune has confirmed that Blizzard are redesigning StarCraft 2’s Siege Tank, and the design will make its first appearance during the upcoming BlizzCon 2007.

This image appears to be the concept art that the new Siege Tank 3D model will be based upon.

New Siege Tank design

The following screenshot includes two very interesting elements – the top right doodad-looking building is described as

a neutral observatory Terran took control over to get rid of fog of war in area around it

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Neutral buildings and mines
If the above assumption true, Blizzard might be implementing neutral capturable observatories just like the ones used in the turn-based Heroes of Might and Magic series.
Among the probes, there also appears to be a small device resembling a mine, which were confirmed to make a comeback in StarCraft2, but it remains unclear whether this actually is a mine.
The following screenshot shows Nuke impact during a massive attack of Zerglings and Mutalisks on the Terran base. It includes two very intriguing structures- the Bar building (If I had to take a guess, this might be some sort of super supply-depot) and what appears to be a defensive Gatling gun structure. (click to enlarge) Terran Nuke Landing

Terran Units
Banshee
Cobra
Marine
Ghost
Viking (Ground)
Viking (Air)
Thor
Reaper
Terran Buildings:
Factory
Barracks
Command Center
Planetary Fortress
Supply Depot
Supply Depot (Submerged)
Reactor Add-On
Sensor Dome
Radar Dome

Beautiful Thor action screenshots :
Thors attacking Thor in action

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New Terran units and more thorough descriptions of them have been spotted in a Korean magazine.

As usual, we have the pictures, translation and speculations based on what we now know. Click the thumbnails for the large version.

Banshee:

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This is a flying bomber which can only attack ground units, dealing area of effect damage. Like the Wraith, it also has a cloak ability.

Cobra:

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A reenvisioned Vulture. This is a fast, hovering vehicle, which carries dual railguns. Apparently, it can fire while moving. We’re very glad to see a unit with this feature, and hope to see more of them in the future, as we have suggested in our “changes we want to see in StarCraft 2” article.

This is why it has a rotating turret, which can likely target units not directly in front of the Cobra.

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We’ve recently seen this unit in a screenshot that came out of the E3 event.

 

 

Viking:

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This unit is a Mech that can transform into a flier. It uses two gatling guns in Mech form, where it can only attack ground targets, and missiles in flier form which can only be used against air targets. I wonder which attack it will prefer when engaging a Colossus?

A few Vikings can be seen wrecking havoc on a Protoss base here, along with a …

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Thor:

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The Thor is the ultimate siege unit. It has a long range, slow firing weapon. It is very slow moving, slow turning, and relatively vulnerable to attack.

Here’s what Blizzard has said regarding the Thor so far:

The Thor will not be the Terran equivalent to the Protoss Mothership. In addition, you will be able to build more than one Thor. The Thor unit will not be the type of unit you’ll want to march into the enemy base by itself.

By no means should you consider the Thor to be a ‘weak’ unit, it just has certain weaknesses that encourage players to add it as part of their arsenal, rather than as a 1 unit army.

Interestingly, the Thor is not created in any building, but built directly by SCVs. This is comparable to Supreme Commander‘s super units, which are also built using workers. In SupCom, the more workers you assign to building the super unit, the faster it is built. Will this be the case with the Thor as well?

Reaper:

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A lot is already known about these guys. It has now been revealed that they have a mine laying ability, though details about the mine itself are sketchy. A concept art picture has also been published.

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Marine:

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His shield will provide a flat, 15 HP health bonus. The Marine will retain his Stim Pack ability, and also has a range upgrade research.

Ghost:

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Higher quality picture of the Ghost. It’s been confirmed that his abilities are back: Cloak, Lockdown, and call for Nuclear Strike. As well, he now has two new abilities: Snipe, which will cause “critical damage” to biological units, and another ability which can summon a few units, apparently via a drop pod, to a location he specifies. This is another suggestion we have written about in our “changes we want to see in StarCraft 2” article! Keep them coming, Blizzard!

The Sensor Dome and Radar Dome:

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The Radar Dome is an upgrade to the Sensor Dome, which has already been revealed. The Radar Dome can detect enemy movement even under the fog of war.

Supply Depot:

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Normal and below ground version of the Depot.

 

Some more information that’s been gathered:

Battle Cruiser: It now has a new area of effect ability, called “Plasma Injection“.

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The Command Center and its upgrade, the Planetary Fortress, can carry 5 SCVs inside of them while flying, as seen in the original gameplay video. The Planetary Fortress can apparently target and fire at a few enemies at once.

Add-on buildings are now shared by unit producing buildings – each building type (Barracks, Factory, Starport) can be linked to any Add-on. A building can only have one Add-On at a time, but they are easy to change by lifting off the building.

The Tech-Lab add-on will allow access to more advanced units, such as the Medic for the Barracks and the Tank for the Factory.

The Reactor Add-on will allow two units to be built in the same amount of time it normally takes to build one (for the cost of two).

The Siege tank will get a design overhaul. Community feedback was harsh regarding the tank, and Blizzard has taken notice.

 

That’s all the information available at the moment. Blizzard promised we’ll be able to see these units in action at Blizzcon, which is only 2 weeks away.

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