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This week, the StarCraft 2 community has been provided with a few minor announcements and some cool StarCraft fan art creations.

The coolest update comes in the form of the recently revealed Brutalisk, a towering Zerg abomination slated to appear in Wings of Liberty, the Terran single player campaign. This unit has “custom map boss” written all over it!

Terrified Marines face the Awesome StarCraft 2 Brutalisk

(Released via Tweeter. Click for Big)

If you have been following the Blizzard rumor mill, you might have stumbled upon the short-lived newsflash that BlizzCon 2010 is scheduled for the 30th of July, 2010, in the Las Vegas Convetion Center. Good thing you haven’t paid anyone for a ticket yet, though – Bashiok, Blizzard’s official Diablo forum poster, switfly debunked the aforementioned rumor.

StarCraft fan art came in several different flavors this week, from cute miniature plush toys to an uber-detailed, 3D models of a Protoss.

Check out the full 3D model collection in this Korean Blog post.

StarCraft 2 3D Protoss

And here’s the stripped down body of this magnificent creature.

3D Naked StarCraft 2 protoss

(via StarCraft2.net.pl. You can download the full image collection here)

On the other hand, if you favor Zerg and/or plushies, here’s a dose of cuteness by mz-kitty:

Chibi Hydralisk by mz_kitty

What art form will StarCraft manifest itself in next? Only time will tell.

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Please note that there is no official announcement of a StarCraft II Beta start date. Beta keys to winners will be distributed during the StarCraft II Beta process.

The above statement was made by Karune to curb the community’s enthusiasm over the announcement of the the first StarCraft 2 beta key contest.

It happened to be that Karune’s announcement regarding the beta key giveaway came amidst a significant rumor storm caused by the Captcha beta image hoax that followed Xordiah’s mention of an existing timetable for the beta as well as plans for beta key competitions.

StarCraft 2 Beta Key hoax

That same evening we have also received an (unofficial) message that insisted that a functional StarCraft 2 multiplayer demo of a recent build has been stolen in France, cracked, and that its torrent is already being seeded. In the context of the above events, the sudden addition of beta keys to the contest might have been an indication of Blizzard’s awareness of the leak, with the announcement being part of a broader “Given lemons, make lemonade” strategy.

Luckily, that was not the case – the only news that mattered was posted by Blizzard’s officials, with the Captcha being outed as a hoax, and we have yet to receive a proof of an existing, playable and redistributable StarCraft 2 demo.

The comic contest is currently the only way the general public (the part that has not attended Blizzcon) can get their hands on StarCraft 2 beta keys, and artists have all of February to try and craft a worthy “Graphic Novel”.

StarCraft II Beta Keys are up for grabs to the funniest, wittiest, able to cause a fun chuckle in your fellow StarCraft fans!

As a FYI, we will be adding (2) StarCraft II Beta Keys to the Vespene Laughs 1st place winner’s prize package each month for the StarCraft II Comic Contest. The rules will be updated accordingly for the February round of entries. Additionally, we will also reward previous 1st place winners of the contest as well with the beta keys as well.

This contest will be the first of various contests that will begin offering a chance to get into the StarCraft II Beta. If you know there isn’t a funny bone anywhere in ya, don’t worry, there will be plenty of other opportunities, just keep checking back with us.

Blizzard has a long running WoW comic tradition and the official gallery is home to more than 260 comic sketches, some being of amazing artistic quality, while others are recognized for their comedic value. The official StarCraft 2 comic contest winners page currently holds just 6 sketches, with the following being our personal favorite:

Starcraft2 Comic Teaser

Creating a comic is very time consuming, especially if the characters are not recurring and the graphics are unique to the sketch. Perhaps the following sketch, the winner of the official September 2008 competition, will give hope to the graphically challenged:

Click to see the full version

You can submit your entries here, and the official rules (lawyerspeak) are here.

In confirmed and official news, the ESL event, held in Paris, France, will give its visitors a chance to play StarCraft 2 on multiple high-end (Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme and Intel® Core™ 2 Quad) laptops, availible at the publically open eSports arena.

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SC2 blog Exclusive : Yellow Crystals!

The following shot is taken from the recently released PC Gamer StarCraft 2 video: At 1:31 minutes into the video, you can clearly see the bright golden-yellow crystals at the top right corner of the screen, right next to the Vespene gas deposit – effectively proving that the Yellow Crystals are a mineable resource and not a doodad.
Yellow crystals

yellow3.jpg

* all other footage features blue crystals only.

By introducing an additional, possibly more valuable version of the basic blue crystals, Blizzard is following in Westwood’s footsteps, who added Blue Tiberium to their Command and Conquer franchise. Blue Tiberium is the more valuable version of the normal, green Tiberium – yielding twice as many credits per volume. Could this be the idea behind yellow mineral crystals?

If this is indeed the case, the gameplay implications are vast, especially for island maps and other difficult expansion spots which could provide a much faster and greater return of investment for the daring fast-expanding player. Introducing super-rewarding expansion spots to existing maps could greatly alter gameplay and strategy. Imagine a StarCraft 2 Lost Temple game: instead of the useless temple in the center, you get to fight over a higher quality mineral cluster! Having one expansion providing twice the amount of resources over the same period of time is surely something worth fighting for.

Whatever the actual purpose of the yellow crystals may be, the introduction of an additional type of resource to the game is exciting, and is sure to have many implications on the gameplay.

Additional theories explaining the existense of Yellow Crystals.

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