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Karunology: Battle Report 2 Clarifications and MULE Origins

The official Battle.net forums were flooded with many questions after the latest Battle Report, which constituted the first showcasing of StarCraft 2 in four months. Karune and the blues did their best to answer some important ones, which we have collected in this post.

First up, Cavez on the new Hydralisk melee attack:

It does not change the damage at all. It has the same attack rate and does exactly the same damage as the regular hydralisk attack. It is just visual.

Seeing how some of StarCraft’s units already had a different attack depending on whether the target was on the ground or in the air, it’s not so much of a stretch to have units change their attack when approaching close-combat range. It will be interesting to see if this evolves into a different attack, stat wise – just like the difference between StarCraft 1’s Goliath ground and air attacks, and similar to the highly developed mechanism found in the Dawn of War RTS games.

For example, the Space Marine Dreadnought can use its flamers or long range assault cannons from a distance – but when it gets close enough, it starts grabbing enemy infantry units, crushing them in its giant, mechanical hands – dealing significantly more damage, and often killing them in one strike.

Dreadnaught crushing Banshees in its huge, mechanical hands

Next up, a bunch of Planetary Fortress goodness from Karune. When asked about its usefulness compared to the Orbital Command, he replied:

Currently in testing, the PF (Planetary Fortress) is already quite beefy – It’s ground attack has been buffed to 40 damage and has a 6 range. When upgrading to a PF, your command center also gets +2 building armor, making this building a very formidable obstacle, especially with 20 SCVs repairing at the same time. There have been many games I’ve seen the PF hold off raiding forces and sometimes even attacking forces by itself and SCVs. While I wouldn’t think it’d be wise to convert your first Command Center to a PF, converting strategic expansions could be helpful, such as those at high yields or may be farther away from the rest of your bases.


On a side note cause I’m sure somebody is wondering this as well – the PF upgrade costs 150 minerals and 150 gas whereas the Orbital Command upgrade costs just 150 minerals. The PF prerequisite building is the Engineering Bay and the Orbital Command prerequisite building is the Barracks.


The PF does splash damage as well.

The Planetary Fortress is a real beast. The Terran Command Center is one of the toughest buildings in the game as is, and transforming it into a splash-damage dealing, heavily armored fortress, which can be fixed by plenty of SCVs at the same time (due to its girth) will make Terran Expansions hard to take down without dedicated effort. It’s so powerful, in fact, that some use it for offensive purposes:

Yup, they make for some pretty humorous games, though keep in mind each one of these are a 550 minerals and 150 gas investment. It takes quite a bit of time to build + upgrade, but if you could pull it off early game (assuming your opponent does not scout) it will surely keep them bottled up until tier 2 or 3 where more mobility comes online. To mount an attack on a Planetary Fortress takes quite a good number of units. Usually it would be better to bypass it if you can.

This is of course more of a gimmick than a strategy that will have high success repetitively 🙂

Boxer, take notice.

Planetary Fortress. Don't mess with it.

Cydra has also confirmed that a Command Center with upgrades can not be salvaged – which effectively commits the player to the cost and permanent location of the upgraded Command Center.

Once you upgrade your Command Center to Orbital Command or Planetary Fortress, you can’t undo the upgrades. And you can’t salvage them.

This brings the list of limitations to:

  • Can’t be lifted.
  • Can’t be upgraded to a different setup or downgraded back to a Command Center (for lift-off purposes).
  • Can’t be Salvaged.

Cydra mentions the first known nerf to the Orbital Command‘s MULEs, which previously possessed the same attack as SCVs and had no line of sight calldown limitations.

True, as long as you have line of sight on the spot, you can drop MULE. On the enemy’s Siege Tanks, on a ramp, etc. However MULE can’t attack or repair.

It’s worth noting that the Orbital Command’s calldown subject has changed from being an ordinary mule to being a MULE. The all uppercase MULE is an acronym, perhaps a reference to Lockheed Martin’s  Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE) vehicle, but it’s just as likely to be Blizzard’s small tribute to the legendary M.U.L.E multiplayer video game of 1983.

Central to the game is the acquisition and use of “M.U.L.E.”s (Multiple Use Labor Element) to develop and harvest resources from the player’s real estate. Depending on how it is outfitted, a M.U.L.E. can be configured to harvest Energy, Food, Smithore (from which M.U.L.E.s are constructed), and Crystite (a valuable mineral available only at the “Tournament” level).

Karune has clarified that the Baneling’s method of transportation in the recent Battle Report – walking – is there to help differentiate it from upgraded Banelings, which roll instead.

Yes. In the current build, Banelings are no longer roll but once they get the movement speed upgrade, they have the rolling animation.

Walking Banelings

Lastly, Cydra reconfirms some previously-revealed information regarding the Nighthawk and the Xel’Naga Watch Tower, while adding tidbits clarifying its behavior around Infested Marines and the Nighthawk’s deployables:

Nighthawk has the detecting ability.

Xel’Naga Watch Tower only can be activated by the ground units.
Infested Marine can activate the Xel’Naga Watch Tower but Auto-Turret can’t.

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