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The current build being presented at BlizzCon has changed many facets of the game that we’ve already come to know. While the game is still far from becoming finalized, and the end result might turn out to be completely different, it’s always interesting to follow these changes and developments, and see how the game is shaping up.

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The Official Unofficial StarCraft 2 Blog has gathered up a list of changes, additions and new interesting pieces of information about the game, as it was presented at the event.

Protoss:

* The Carrier is back, and will replace the Tempest. The Carrier will look bigger than all other Protoss aerial units, except for the Mothership. The Carriers will carry Interceptors, which will have a normal laser attack. The Carrier will also have an “auto-build” option for its Interceptors – great automation, we approve.

* The Colossus can not be transported. Its mobility is limited to its walking speed. The Colossus also has an upgrade that increases its shields.

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* The Reaver has been removed from the game. Developers say that it was overlapping with the Colossus in the “kill a lot of small units” department, and that it was no longer necessary.

* The Warp Ray has changed its theme to a Dark Templar one – it’s darker, and also smaller, to allow the Carrier to become the distinctive capital Protoss ship.

* The Star Relic has been changed to a “Statis Orb“, which will now be a land based unit. It has an attack that slows down the movement and rate of fire of its enemies.
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* The Twilight Archon no longer has feet – it hovers, just like in StarCraft 1. Also, it has received the “Feedback” ability, which was previously used by SC1’s Dark Archons:

Feedback is a targeted spell that when cast on a unit, that unit lose all of its mana and will take an amount of damage equal to the mana lost. Example:

If a Science Vessel with 150 Energy Points is within the range of the spell and Feedback is cast on it, the Science Vessel will lose all 150 Energy Points as well as lose 150 HP instantaneously.

If the unit has more Energy Points than HP when Feedback is used on it, the unit will instantly die.

 

* The Mothership has lost the Timebomb and Black Hole ability (though we suspect that at least the Black hole ability will return in some form). Instead, it now has a cloaking ability, similar to that of the SC1 Arbiter – it cloaks all ground units in a surrounding radius, while staying visible itself. Currently, it’s possible to build more than one Mothership. Their air-to-air attack has also been nerfed considerably.

Terran:

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* New unit: Nomad. This is a Science Vessel redux, featuring EMP, which drains all shields and energy from units in an area, and Defense Matrix, which is now an area of effect ability, defending all units in the area it’s set up in. The Nomad can also auto-repair close flying units.

* New unit: Predator. This is an updated Wraith, with an air-to-air attack only. Also, it can transform into an Interceptor that can block enemy missiles. Unlike the SC1 Wraith, the Predator doesn’t have a Cloaking ability anymore – it passed that along to the Banshee.

* Banshee: Anti-ground attack only. It fires a volley of missiles that deal splash damage in a relatively large radius. Its rate of fire is slow, however. Since it has cloak, we are bound to see packs of Banshees performing hit and run attacks on unsuspecting enemy forces.

* Salvage: This unique Terran ability allows them to “sell off” a building for a full refund of its resources. The process takes some time, and can not be reversed. Very similar to the Command and Conquer method of selling off buildings, which deconstructs them step by step for a nice, instant wad of cash.

* A Command Center, when upgraded, cannot be lifted off the ground. This means its function as an offensive weapon will be very limited.

* New Siege Tank design! Verdict: Awesome.

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* Missile Turrets no longer serve as detectors, a role which has been assigned to the Sensor Dome.

* The Starport can now be upgraded to a Starbase. The Starbase can produce units while airborne.

* Battlecruisers come in two flavors: Plasma Turret and Yamato Cannon. The Battlecruiser will look different depending on which version the player chooses. The Plasma Turret is an AoE ground bombardment ability, which deals heavy damage in a large radius, while looking very impressive. The Yamato Cannon is unchanged from its previous incarnations.

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* Snipe, the Ghost ability, deals 150 damage points to organic units. I’m betting the Ghost will soon take a new name – given to it by pleased Terran players – “High Templar Hunter“.

* The Thor‘s long range bombardment ability requires it to dig its feet down into the ground, giving it the stability it needs to fire off all four cannons on its back. It appears that the Terrans have really gone to lengths to ensure that the success of the Siege Tank is replicated in their new unit designs.

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* Reapers: These are recruited at the “Merc Haven” building. The reapers aren’t produced like normal units. Instead, the building slowly “recharges” up to 4 of them, which can then be quickly recruited.

* The initial Viking form is the ground assault form. An upgrade is required for it to transform to fighter mode.

* The Cobra is especially strong against armored units, such as the Siege Tank or Colossus. It is relatively weak against small targets, though.

* The Radar Dome shows exclamation points for units under the fog of war.

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General:

* Building queues are five unit deep.

* Unit selection is limitless.

* an idle worker button has been added to the UI.

* The Xel’Naga Observatories are not capturable per se. They are activated and work for your benefit when you have a ground unit near one.

* The game starts with six workers, instead of four in SC1.

* Start of game fog of war is no longer black – you can now see a grayed out layout of the map, just like you would normally have after revealing an area and not having a unit present in it, in SC1.

* The GUI now displays a list of attributes for every unit. Since the damage units deal to each other depends on these attributes, this will greatly help players understand the advantages and disadvantages of these units, and will allow them to make the most out of their forces.

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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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