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Playing Catch-up – Septermber Re-covered

As most of our loyal readers must have noted, September’s updates were somewhat irregular. Truth be told, we were traveling a LOT and now we’re back to our somewhat sane lives. In this post, we re-cover September, and set things straight prior to the much-anticipated news barrage that usually accompanies Blizzcon .

September’s newsworthy items include the 44 Q&A, multiple Protoss and Terran unit changes, new artwork and several interesting Battle.net posts. Starting with the somewhat insignificant, Blizzard opened September with several new artwork images, which were added to StarCraft 2 Official site’s gallery. The official gallery now spans eleven pages and almost a hundred hi-res images.

SCV Blizzard Art

Karune has posted healthy amount of interesting information concerning the current build on the Battle.net forums, clearing several interesting aspects of Overlord creeping and Xel’ Naga Watch Towers.

  • Overlords must remain immobile to generate creep.
  • It takes 15 seconds to unload a Pylon radius worth of creep.
  • Creep takes 30 seconds to recede after Overlord’s “removal”.

Maxed out creep range from one Overlord is a little bigger than the range of a Pylon’s power radius, and will take about 15 seconds to reach max range and generally recede within 30 seconds(subject to balance) after the Overlord is destroyed or stops unloading creep

….Overlords are immobile when they are unloading creep – and I don’t think the opponent would appreciate you painting up his base with ‘taunts’ written in creep either 

 

 

Marine with ShieldsMarine shields are not just a graphic perk, but a vital part of the Terran arsenal, making the Marine a far more viable late game choice. Considering the amount of heavy-hitters introduced in StarCraft 2 (Thor, MotherShip, Colossus, Queen, better Ultralisks), the Shield upgrade is must for late game infantry.

 

 
Yup, the Marines still have upgradable shields, making a huge difference late game against more high damage units. As long as those Marines can survive that initial hit, the Medivac Dropships does an awesome job of bringing them back to full health in no time.

Xel’ Naga Watch Towers don’t detect invisible units, however, the Terran Vulcan does. Terran Vulcan is the Nomad‘s new name, one that was probably received due to the recently rumored significant change of appearance.

The Xel’Naga Watch Towers do not grant ‘detection’ of cloaked units, nor does it move around like an Observer.

Nomads, also now known as the Vulkan, is still a detector. Actually, it is probably the most powerful mobile detector in the game, considering it can also rapidly deploy a medley of Terran defenses used to both support an attack or raid the enemy.

The Nomad was not the only unit to have its name changed, as the Jackal is now know as Hellion. Jackal was initially introtuced is StarCraft 2’s incarnation of the Vulture, eventually distanced from it by its Buggy-like design and the friendly friendly-fire AoE.
Hellion’s role has distanced the unit even further, by making it a mobile Flamethrower, not entirely unlike C&C’s Flame Tank.

 

 

The combination of :

  • Speed
  • Friendly AoE damage
  • Affordability

Make the Hellion seem as a perfect Worker-line raider, on par with the Terran Reaper, which costs more Gas and is significantly more fragile.

The Jackal, now known as the Hellion, only has the flamethrower weapon. In previous versions, there was a railgun hover vehicle, but that will no longer be in multiplayer.
Think Firebat on wheels!

The Hellion is currently one of the best units for “micro” since it is faster than all other units in its tier, and also does splash damage in the form of a line with the flamethrower.

Protoss units were not neglected by Blizzard’s Naming Officers, and the Warp Ray is now officially known as Void Ray – fitting its Dark Templar roots.

Warp Rays, also known as Void Rays now, are especially good against high hit point units, as well as buildings.

 

And last but not least, the missing Q&A 44.

Chat with Devs: Something I noticed during our recent shows at Games Convention in Leipzig and PAX in Seattle is that many new players trying out the game who played Zerg built several creep tumors, thinking they were either defenses or going to morph into defenses. This eventually lead into a conversation with Dustin about why Creep Tumors no longer morph into base defenses. For those who dont know, a Creep Tumor is a building which expands creep around it significantly. Building this building is an excellent way to cover additional ground with creep, allowing for many new strategies, including aggressive Spine Crawler pushes (the mobile Sunken Colony).


Dustin brought up two scenarios to why Creep Tumors no longer morph into other Zerg defenses: 

 

1) You would be able to creep across the map by moving your creep-spawning base defenses.

 

 
2) It would be easier to accidentally end up with buildings off of creep because the creep-generator moved away.
 
Thus, since the development team definitely wanted to give Zerg mobile defenses, they decided to split the roles of the Creep Tumor and the other Zerg defenses. This also allows for the team to make these Creep Tumors burrowed and very cheap in the latest build.
 
       

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t read the above paragraph, you should, especially if you are a Zerg player. This pretty much puts an end to the massive TheoryCraft around Zerg’s mobile defenses, the turtling and offensive towering possibilities, and brings Zerg’s defensive arsenal to a somewhat sane level.

Zerg creep Tumors

On to the questions, which are mainly clarifications and glimpses into the mild adjustments that are present in the currently tested build.

1) Is it possible for replays to contain more in depth player statistics such as average clicks per minute, number of hotkeys used, etc.. ?

 

Replays will have much more info available in them that will include more detailed stat tracking, as well as other useful eSports related features.

 

 

2) Terrans currently appear to be at a disadvantage in terms of troop mobility, (as compared to ‘Warp-in’ and ‘Nydus Worm’) are there any plans to bring back the, ‘drop-pod’ or other new transport mechanic?

 

 
Actually, the Terrans have many units and mechanics that empower them with more mobility than the original StarCraft. The Reaper and Viking is a good example of new units that extend the Terrans raiding capabilities. Furthermore, Medivac Dropships offer more incentive to build lots of Dropships, which translate to more mobility for their entire army. Salvage is also another mechanic that helps in terms of rebuilding and moving a Terran base to new locations. Lastly, the Terrans are still the only side that can pick up and move their whole entire base, as well as being able to load SCVs in their Command Center now, allowing for quicker fast expanding strategies.

Blizzard’s answer to the Terran mobility question is a great example of how the StarCraft Universe works, and how a Blizzard’s developers approach RTS : Balance does not imply having the same tools. Balance does not imply having the same firepower abilities or speed.

3) With the new high ground mechanic in place, an army can’t fight units that are on higher ground anymore until they get a spotter up the ledge. Both Zerg and Terran have the possibility to spot units on high ground with Overlords and floating buildings right from the start of the game, but the first Protoss unit to fly up there would be the Phase Prism. Could it be that Protoss players have a significant disadvantage on some maps because of this?

 

In the latest builds of StarCraft II, the Protoss no longer need an Observatory to build Observers. Observers will be able to be built straight from the Robotics Facility, allowing earlier eyes on the battlefield.
We definitely saw that especially on certain maps, Terrans were able to block their choke point early, taking away much of the scouting portion of the game from Protoss, and are trying out this new solution for it. Additionally, we felt that Observers were too a crucial to the Protoss army to have them that far up the tech tree.

 

 
4) Will the Unit Portraits in SC2 be pre-rendered high quality video clips like in SC1 ?

 

The unit portraits will be shown in much higher quality than the actual units on the screen, similar to the original StarCraft and Warcraft III. They will not be video clips, but will be animations rendered in game. There will be several examples of their unit portraits in the next BlizzCast, where we have Dustin and Sammy discussing the process of creating a unit.

 

5) We all know how important it is that tier 1 units be effective at later tiers, which has prompted different unit abilities like the Zealots Charge. But it seems that the Protoss have a leg up in that they have Charge while the Zerglings have only their traditional speed boost without any AI enhancements. Is anything being planned for the Zergling?

 

Due to the new game engine, Zerglings have much better pathing in StarCraft II, meaning they move much more efficiently. Zerglings are able to both surround enemy units easier and are more easily selectable as well, being able to control more than 12 at a time. Furthermore, Zerglings are also slightly smaller than their original StarCraft counterparts, and able to be morphed into Banelings, which are extremely effective against Zealots. Lastly, Zealots have also had their shield hit points reduced by 10, as compared to the original StarCraft Zealots.

And in case you haven’t been following, BlizzCon’s coverage starts this Friday, October the 10th.
Last year, Blizzcon build included radical changes, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if this year’s event will include some sort of a significant StarCraft 2 announcement or gameplay adjustment.

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