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Batch #36 of Q&As is here. Featuring ScreenCraft in form an action packed Baneling assault screenshot, the fresh information deals mainly with very specific StarCraft 2 unit details. Starting off, here’s the new picture and its description:

ScreenCraft: This batch’s screenshot is to show the significant size increase of the Baneling since the original Protoss announcement gameplay trailer. The size increase is to allow the possibility of focus firing on incoming Banelings with additional micromanagement.

An army of Banelings invade a developing rival Zerg base.

It appears the Baneling has received some adjustments and improvements since its inception. In this picture, the Banelings’ corrosive acid’s compartments are glowing in radioactive green.

Karune had some more information to provide about the constantly improving graphics:

The Art Team is constantly polishing the units, animations, buildings, maps, and textures.

Even after they’ve added the ‘gritty’ nature to the Terran buildings, they still have not finished. Since then, they’ve added additional animations to them, as well as Terran faction ’emblems’ to them, and completely new Bunker art too.

As much as the gameplay is always being revised, so is the art. The Zerg of all 3 races probably still have the most art additions waiting to be made on it.

With the settings set to ‘High or Ultra,’ there will be some amazing textures, with the Zerg creep being exceptionally notable.

On to the Q&A:

1. Do Protoss Immortals get killed when a Nuke explodes next to them(seeing as the Hardened Shield blocks all high profile attacks and that a Nuke is definitely a high profile attack)?

In term of units, the only units that will be able to survive a Nuke will be the Protoss Mothership and Immortals upgraded with Hardened Shields. An upgraded Immortal will take 10 damage from a Nuke. To all other units, the Nuke will do 800 damage, thus making it much more powerful than the Nuke in the original StarCraft.

Nuke upon protoss

It has been made clear by now that the StarCraft 2 Ghost is getting a lot more love than its previous incarnation – its abilities included. The Nuke is now 60% more devastating, and we’re not sure it’ll be the only improvement made to it.
Blizzard’s will to integrate neglected but powerful StarCraft 1 abilities such as Infestation, Hallucination and the Nuke into standard StarCraft 2 tactic arsenal is apparent – each has received significant improvements.

2. How powerful is the Roach’s regeneration ability? How much time is needed to regenerate from 1 to full hp?

The Roach currently regenerates 15 hit points per second, allowing it to regenerate to full health in 6 seconds. In countering Roaches, a player must either micromanage the battle to make sure they are focus firing on each Roach one at a time, or they have to bring in high damage units such as Siege Tanks or Archons.

The StarCraft 2 Roaches are going to be a nightmare for players who are not micromanage-oriented, inflicting major losses on their armies in the lower-tier portions of the game. This is the unit you’ve been waiting to buy a new gaming mouse for.

Karune adds:

If you had a single Roach vs another Roach, the game would not end 🙂 If you have groups of them, focus firing them will still do the trick.

The Roach at 90 hit points and 15 hp/sec regeneration excels at small number skirmishes, but at large encounters, they are not extremely hard to fight.

1vs1 a Roach will beat a Stalker. 5vs5 a Stalker group which focus fires and a little micromanagement can beat the Roaches with little to no losses.

Roaches are the best at countering units that attack a bit slower and do not do huge amounts of damage with a single attack, such as the Zealot.

3. Are Overseers any tougher than Overlords?

When an Overlord evolves into an Overseer, it will gain a speed bonus, passive detection, the ability to generate creep below it, and the ability to corrupt’ resources to make it more difficult for opponents to gain access to them. Furthermore, when Overseers sit in the same spot, over time its visual range will increase (but not its detection range).

Addressing some questions on the subject, Karune provides a few more pieces of information:

1) The tier 1 Overlord is very slow and does not have detection, though still essential for scouting throughout the game.

2) In generating creep, the Overlord essentially unloads a bunch of creep straight to the ground below it, which expands. Corrupting minerals takes some time to fully cast, but it creates a non-attacking creature that takes over that resource, and needs to be killed before those minerals are able to be gathered. Furthermore, you can corrupt resources that are already being mined, introducing potential Overseer raids to slow the enemy’s production.

3) Neither abilities require energy. Creep generation does not have a cooldown whereas corrupt minerals has a small cooldown timer.

4. Is it worth it to build a Terran Reactor Add-on since the benefit of doubling your queue list is not that useful, as it is often a bad idea to have your queue full?

Yes! The Terran Reactor doesn’t just double the size of your queue list. For a mere 50 minerals and 50 gas cost for the Reactor, that Barracks, Factory, or Starport will have the ability to create two units simultaneously (assuming that unit doesn’t require a tech lab add-on). Most of the time, building the Reactor will be worth it, rather than building a second Barracks, Factory, or Starport. Not only will you be able to build from a single building the production of two normal buildings, you will be able to salvage that Reactor if needed to get 100% of the cost back. Being able to salvage allows for quick tech shifts or evacuations.

The Reactor add-on is indeed a great advantage for the Terran forces, and constitutes a new gameplay concept for StarCraft 2, as we have discussed in our New StarCraft 2 Gameplay Concepts post. What Karune doesn’t mention is the amazing flexibility Terran players are granted when setting up a couple of reactors, allowing them to quickly shift the stress of their production from Infantry to Mechanized to Air Power and back as needed.

5. Will there be different building textures resembling the actual terrain? (in Warcraft 2 the buildings were snowy on the winter maps)

This is something the art team would like to do, though it will ultimately come down to time. There’s a lot of art work still left to do, such as their current task, which is putting the finishing touches on the Terran Marauder amongst several other units. On the Marauder, players will be able to see many intricate animations for both the weapons and their power suits.

6. Did the High Templar’s Hallucination ability undergo any changes due to the introduction of new tough units, such as Thor or Colossus?

The Hallucination ability did not undergo changes because of those new units, but it did get significant buffs since the original StarCraft. First off, hallucinated units still have the same hit points as the original unit, but take double damage. Furthermore, the duration the unit lasts for will be around 2-3 minutes, which will be significantly longer than the original StarCraft. On top of that, to hallucinate a unit only costs 40 energy, which is much cheaper than the original StarCraft’s cost of 100 energy.

As with the Nuke and Infestation abilities, Hallucination has received a major improvement over its StarCraft 1 version. Coupled with the introduction of additional tough units such the Mothership, Colossus and the Terran Thor, Blizzard has provided plenty of incentives for the Protoss players to make Hallucination a part of their standard arsenal.

Since its unveiling in May 2007, StarCraft 2 has been constantly either criticized or praised for the similarity to its masterpiece predecessor. Unlike the WarCraft and Diablo game series sequels, Blizzard’s StarCraft sequel is not radically different from StarCraft. At first glance, the Terran, Protoss and Zerg clash again, with only slightly modified arsenals and greatly enhanced graphics.

StarCraft vs StarCraft 2

But that’s not all. Every RTS game has key concepts that stretch beyond unit armor/damage statistics and eye candy – concepts like the Terran flying buildings, the neutral heroes of WarCraft 3 or the superweapons of Command & Conquer. Concepts that define battlefield priorities, the amount of base management required, and very often compromise the mechanics that drastically change the flow of multiplayer battles.

StarCraft 2 includes many such concepts, which significantly differentiate it from its predecessor:

1) Selection and Automation: Unlimited Selection and Multiple building selection

One of StarCraft’s key troop management considerations was the 12 unit per group limit. Just like any other Blizzard RTS game, and unlike almost any Westwood RTS game, players had to divide units into controllable groups not just based on priority and comfort, but the ease of unified control. Having 15 marines and 7 Vultures usually meant that the player will have to control 3 groups(12+3+7), an artificially imposed handicap which had no real meaning.

Unlimited Selection

StarCraft 2 changes all that. Players will be able to group units by control comfort, map location and unit roles – a drastic change which will affect the diversity and amount of engaged units.

Multiple building selection is a somewhat controversial concept which greatly streamlines production management across multiple buildings. This common control method, which already exists in WarCraft 3, has been criticized for easing production control beyond measure, thus eliminating a facet of skill superiority in matches. MBS liberates more time with which players can focus on controlling the battle, and removes another artificial hassle from the gameplay. Confirmed early on and not changed since, this feature will make it to the Gold version.
StarCraft 2 includes many new automation features, such as smart casting and auto-mining – we have covered them extensively several months ago.

2) Defenses: Terran Supply Depots, Protoss mobile Phase Cannons and the creeping Zerg base defenses

Every race in StarCraft 2 has received significant and original improvements to their defensive structures. The Terran have effectively acquired the first and only StarCraft equivalent of a gate. Despite always having the ability to block and unblock vital ground by lifting buildings off the ground and repositioning them, the size and nature of the new Supply Depots provide an unparalleled static defense flexibility for the Terran players.

Terran Supply Depot

The Protoss mobile Phase Cannons are a great way to ensure that every part of one’s base is covered by defenses – if they’re not there at present, they’ll be moved where they’re needed within a few seconds – but perhaps more importantly, they create a great economic advantage for the Protoss. While every other race possesses its own advantages in terms of “offensive towering”, the Protoss have become the only race to be able to recycle its defenses. Static defenses often become obsolete, especially when placed in expansions or offensive outposts, and this feature allows them to be used and reused throughout the game.

Protoss no longer see the Cannons as a waste of resources (even though current build information suggests otherwise) – they can be redeployed to new expansions, be used in a new offensive, or be sent to aid an ally in need.

Similarly, the newly introduced mobile Zerg defenses are a somewhat less aggressive implementation of this idea. While the mobile Protoss Cannons are able to move around even outside pylon range, Zerg defenses, like almost all other Zerg structures, require creep to be built or to move around on. Of course, as noted earlier by Karune – in Zerg Vs Zerg match-ups, offensive towering is extremely effective due to the Queen’s support.

3) Terrain: High-yield minerals, Terrain destructibility, High-Low Ground

One of the first things to be noticed during StarCraft 2’s initial unveiling were the Yellow Crystals. These were later confirmed to be high-yield minerals – a strategy changing concept, which has served Westwood well in its C&C RTS series of games.

Yellow ?

The tactical implications of having super-valuable expansions in a macro-oriented RTS game, such as StarCraft, are vast. In 2vs2 battles, an economic advantage is very often all players need to gain a significant advantage over the other team.

Destructible terrain, despite adding an additional tactical twist to any battlefield, will likely become little more than an early game consideration. Blocked choke-points, well isolated expansions and unreachable cliffs will alter players’ priorties, often benefiting the player who correctly times the destruction of these obstacles.

Not unlike StarCraft, StarCraft 2 also has multiple levels of terrain height, but this time the Protoss and Terran are equipped with units specifically designed to hop between the different height levels. Colossi, Reapers and Stalkers have all been designed to take advantage of higher ground in battle. The ability to move between heights provides these units with a significant advantage over melee units, and greatly increases the survival chances they have in multi-tiered maps.

Hi-Low Ground

4) StarCraft 2 Production twists – Reactor Add-on and the Warp Gate

One of the most overlooked features at this point is the Terran’s Reactor add-on. As described in a recent Q&A, the Reactor allows a building to build two units at once, effectively doubling its production rate. This is a radical change in production, a crushing advantage for a race that has quite an arsenal of specialized units – as long as the player forfeits the Terran heavy-hitters.

Heavy Hitting Terrans

The Reactor add-on can be attached to the production buildings that needs the doubled rate, and detached from production facilities which need to produce Tech-Lab dependant units.

The Protoss Warp Gate, on the other hand, grants the player the ability to summon units directly into expansions and allied bases. A team of Protoss players can provide each other with reinforcements in real time, an especially significant advantage on Island maps and siege situations.

Bear in mind that we have ignored the major implications of introducing such gameplay-changing units as the Zerg Queen and the new Terran Ghost on purpose, to put on emphasis on global aspects that affect production, control, base layout and economy. These concepts are far more likely to survive the many StarCraft 2 builds which have radically altered unit abilities time after time.

The 35th batch of questions and answers has been posted on Battle.net by Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager. This one includes an elaborate Gameplay Blog section, a Chat with the Devs, and eight (!) answers.

Chat with the Devs: The Dev team has been working hard to find the best defense mechanic that works for the Zerg. The latest builds have brought back Sunken and Spore Colonies, with a new twist. Sunken and Spore Colonies can now uproot and crawl to a more advantageous position. Incidentally, Protoss Phase Cannons no longer have the ability to change positions.


Giving the Zerg mobile defensive structures feels a lot more right as this ability opens up many more aggressive strategies in both Zerg mirrors as well as combined with Overlords generating creep to push these defenses up towards the front lines. Furthermore, there definitely is something about watching defenses crawling around that just seems very Zerg-like. Its worth noting that Zerg defenses while in mobile form have fewer hit points and are more vulnerable to attack.

The Protoss’ new defense mechanism has been transferred to the Zerg; Phase Cannons can no longer switch to energy form and move around, but the Zerg’s defensive colonies can now “uproot” and slowly creep towards a better Creep-infested location. Like the Phase Cannon in energy form, the Sunken and Spore colonies are more vulnerable when traveling.

Phase Cannons

This new mechanism, coupled with the Queen’s ability to extend creep and the Overlord’s ability to generate a small patch, will certainly prove useful for both defensive and offensive purposes.

How are the new defensive colonies created?

The Queen still creates all the defenses for the Zerg.

A question pops up: Will the mobile colonies be able to traverse Creep-less land, like Phase Cannons could energy-less ground?

The Gameplay Blog for this batch is actually longer than the Q&A section. It provides some insight into Terran 1v1 tactics at the Blizzard HQ:

Gameplay Blog: Over the past few weeks Ive really been practicing up with the Terran faction, as it is probably the one that I am weakest at playing with. After getting beat about three or four times and finally getting my build order up to speed, I realized Terrans actually have a huge advantage in StarCraft II with being able to block off choke points to your base with ease.


Currently, on most maps a Terran player is able to block off their base entry point before the enemy is able to scout, making it nearly impossible for the enemy to find out what the Terran player is doing behind that wall. With only a few Marines and a couple SCVs, the Terran player can fend off most early attacks, especially since they usually also have a higher elevation sight advantage.


Three popular options amongst the staff playing at Blizzard include:


1) Tech straight to Banshees, which have a very powerful single target attack, and can be researched to cloak. This unit devastates if the opponent is not prepared with both anti- air units as well as detectors.


2) Tech straight to Reapers, which can jump up and down hills without a spotter, and get an added bonus damage versus light units. What this means is that the Reapers are able to quickly get in an enemys resource line to annihilate workers at an astounding rate, as well as get out before the enemy can react. This works great if you can scout/scan to see if their main base is defended well with static defenses. On top of that, did I forget to mention that they can drop mines that do significant damage towards buildings? Yes, that means with a handful of these guys, you can drop enough mines to take out whole Hatcheries/ Nexuses, or strategically use them to take out Pylons or tech buildings. After you drop the mines, jump back out of combat and let the mine cooldown reset for another round of raids.


3) If a Terran player bunkers up as mentioned above and no attacks are made by this player, one way an opponent mayrespond is to expand and build a stronger economy, as they do not feel threatened. In this case, a Terran player can simply build up a huge force of Marines and Marauders behind the wall without the opponent knowing, and then strike when their opponent drops their guard.


Luckily, the Dev Team is well on top of balance, as they have introduced new abilities such as the Nullifiers Anti Gravity ability to lift up buildings blocking choke points and Nydus Worms to bypass such defenses to keep those Terran players honest. Maps will likely have larger choke points in the future to offer a little more chance for opponents to get a Probe or Drone in early to scout early teching Terran players.

The Terrans, masters of turtling, have plenty of effective options to choose from – and all in the safety of their well protected base, often without the enemy knowing what to prepare for.

The Banshee rush is reminiscent of the StarCraft 1 pre-nerf Wraith rush. Both units are relatively high up in the tech tree, requiring the player to neglect the push for a normal, balanced force in the early game, but aren’t high enough that they can’t be produced in adequate numbers quickly. The Stealth capability both possess allow them to completely devastate an enemy’s economy, or at least harass his forces, without taking any losses, long enough for the Terran player to establish a substantial advantage. Unfortunately for Terran players, the Wraith’s anti-ground attack was greatly nerfed early on, making this tactic somewhat suicidal. With the Banshee’s clear role as a ground bomber, the Wraith rush of the old days may be brought back in StarCraft 2.

Crouching Marine, Hidden Banshee

A noteworthy change has taken place for the Reapers, who can now jump up cliffs even without having vision of their destination. This, along with their bonus damage against light units, means Reapers are currently the best economy raiders of StarCraft 2, and all that without mentioning their powerful, regenerating mine laying ability.

Reapers: Voted best in synchronized jumping

On to the Q&A:

1. Do Banelings damage nearby friendly units when they explode onto an enemy target?


No, in the current build the Banelings do not damage friendly units caught in the splash. The splash damage does cover its area of effect range evenly, doing the same damage to enemy units throughout the whole area.

This answers a question that’s been brought up often in comments about the Baneling, which is now being scrutinized in this month’s discussion.

2. When a Nydus Worm is detected, is it possible to shoot it down while it is traveling?


Yes, having detectors in strategic places will keep you from being surprised by an unexpected Nydus Worm showing up in your base.

Another question we’ve had for a while. The Nydus Worm can be intercepted and destroyed before popping up in the middle of your base, probably killing its passengers in the process.

3. Does the Nydus Worm, a ground unit, move through open space?


Yes. We dont know how we are going to make this look yet. When we come up with a visual solution we are happy with we will show it to the community.

4. Can Zerg buildings be infested, and if so, what units are produced?


Zerg buildings cannot be infested. It is planned that infested Protoss buildings will produce an infested Protoss unit that will play differently than the infested Marine.

5. Will be there such doodads like customizable light or shader?



6. The first screenshot listed in Karune’s 33rd Q&A shows what looks like the Mothership’s Black Hole ability. However, it was said that the Black Hole was removed. Does this mean the ability has returned in the current build?


As mentioned before, the state of many of these units are always changing. In the current build, the Mothership has become more of a support unit with increased hit points and decreased speed. The Mothership now allows Protoss Gateways that have converted to Warp Gates to be able to warp units straight to the Mothership. The warp-in mechanic (which cannot be queued) has also been tweaked to allow Protoss players who use it to get a slight time decrease in unit production as opposed to queuing units traditionally at the Gateways. In other words, the cooldown timer on warp-in doesnt take as long as the build time for units at a Gateway.


Furthermore, the Mothership will also have the ability to transfer energy down to casters below it, such as Templars. Both the Time Bomb and Black Hole abilities have been removed

The Mothership has received a huge change, again, and will serve as a unique support unit. It is now slow and sturdy, and functions similarly to an always-deployed Phase Prism – allowing units to warp-in directly to it. Its Time Bomb and Black Hole (Vortex?) abilities have been removed, but no word has been given regarding its Arbiter-like Cloak. However, it’s safe to assume it no longer possesses the powerful “Planet-Cracker” ability either. As a support unit, it can still transfer energy down to spell-casters below it – perhaps signifying that it has no more energy-dependent abilities of its own, functioning only as a large battery for Protoss casters.


Another interesting change is to the Warp Gate mechanism: In an effort to increase the reward given to high-APM players, the queue-less Warp Gates have received a small boost in efficiency. Players who choose to relinquish the Gateway’s queue in favor of the Warp Gate’s more efficient warping technology, even when warping in itself is not required, will be able to enjoy a small increase in productivity – as long as they’re willing to babysit the Warp Gate constantly throughout.

7. Will Phase Cannons be able to rematerialize on an allys Pylon Power, or an enemys Pylon Power for that matter?


Phase Cannons are no longer able to move in the current build.

8. Is the Tauren Marine going to be included in the StarCraft II map editor?



Tauren Marines posing

It’s time for a new monthly discussion topic, created by Blizzard for the purpose of gathering fan feedback. This month’s topic is the Baneling, a Zerg unit that’s been revealed way back, during the initial StarCraft 2 announcement in Korea. The Baneling has changed since, but Blizzard is still unsure about its role on the battlefield and requires your opinions.


Here’s a list of the changes the Baneling has gone through recently:



190 damage per Baneling (40+150 to building)
Increased splash range (100% damage taken throughout range)
Can be well positioned to hit multiple buildings
Larger & Movement Speed Slower (possible to defend with focus fire)
Counters Zealots, Zerglings, base Marines (not upgraded) -More Narrow window of use




Fast and small- Unable to defend against (focus fire)
Countered virtually all ground units

The Baneling has transformed into the Zerg’s anti unit-spam measure. Able to take on and harm multiple small enemies, it has enough direct impact damage and splash to take out multiple Marines and Zerglings in a single hit. Not only that, it is extremely dangerous to buildings, especially if they’re clumped up. Suicide runs, aimed at critical buildings or concentrations of defensive structures, will likely be very common – and with the incredible amount of damage each Baneling can inflict, very few of them will actually have to connect with their target. A Phase Cannon, for example, will only survive a single Baneling explosion; the second one will destroy it.


However, since the Banelings are now slower and bigger, players who have their hand on the pulse and can micromanage their forces well enough will be able to take the Banelings down before suffering the explosive consequences. There’s one important thing we don’t know about the Banelings, though, that will ultimately decide how often it is used: how much does it cost?

Blizzard has a few specific questions about the Baneling:

Questions for fans:


* How do you like the new Baneling?


* What possibilites do you see for using the Baneling, what strategies could be viable with the Baneling against the different races?


* What are the pros/cons for this new Baneling?


* Additional feedback you might have

Additionally, the SC2 Blog’s questions are:

1) How much should the Baneling cost? Remember, it’s an evolution of the Zergling which already costs 25 minerals.


2) Should the Baneling be able to mutate back into its original form?


3) How many Banelings should fit inside a single Nydus Worm?

Please structure feedback as follows:

<question you’d like to answer>


<your answer>


<question you’d like to answer>


<your answer>

The Baneling joins two others units, the Ghost and Mothership, in receiving its own dedicated monthly topic. Both units have received major changes since – and the Baneling will too, depending on your feedback!

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