StarCraft 2!

May 26th, 2007 by Potato

Yes, I don’t know why I didn’t post on it earlier either… perhaps it was just too good to be true.

I’m really surprised that it’s not an MMO: there were so many good arguments for why it had to be one (all the infrastructure/back end programming is in place from WoW, WoW is getting old enough that there’s enough churn of players looking for a new Blizzard MMO to roll into, and last but certainly not least, the trainloads of money they’re rolling in from the MMO genre — no matter how well StarCraft 2 sells, it’ll never match that because they’ll only get the money once), that I just didn’t believe it at first when it was a return to RTS.

I miss having a Blizzard RTS to play. I’ve been playing C&C3 lately, but like all entries in that franchise, it’s less about strategy and more about “Mammoth tank rush”. True, I haven’t been playing online against real players, where more subtle strategic interactions may lie patiently in wait, but I don’t hold out much hope since the single player campaigns are often designed to help encourage using mixed forces — but after finishing the GDI campaign, I found that once I had the right mix of forces to defend my base, it was just as effective to send a force of Mammoth tanks as it was to coordinate a mixed arms force, and much less demanding of my skills, too. But StarCraft, now that was a game that was exquisitely balanced. Balanced three unique ways, too. While there certainly were plenty of players on who were slaves to the zergling rush, or the hydralisk rush, or the all-mutalisk swarm, or of course the processor-lagging all-Carrier fleet, a good mix of forces (particularly Terran, since I tended to pick that when I wasn’t going random) could usually bring those monoculture swarms down.

I’ve actually tried to get my friends into playing StarCraft or WarCraft III again, but it’s been tough — very few of them love the genre as much as I do, and with StarCraft being over 10 years old, it does look a little dated (especially if you now have a widescreen monitor that stretches it). So the previews of the new units and abilities sound neat, and the gameplay trailers look amazing, but the biggest thing I’m looking forward to in StarCraft 2 is simply getting StarCraft back to the forefront of everyone’s minds so I can play with my friends again :) If it takes a new release and a visual makeover to do it, then so be it.

4 Responses to “StarCraft 2!”

  1. Rez Says:


    Finally. I can’t wait, either (though we’ll probably be waiting a year or three for it to be released). I’m just excited because I know lots of real life friends who would play, and it’s more fun to have a 3v3 where you know everyone than a 3v3 with strangers.

  2. Potato Says:

    Absolutely. This will sound a little sad, but some of my fondest memories are of kicking ass and taking names in arranged team WarCraft III — especially right around when we finally got the MS VoiceCommander working.

  3. Netbug Says:

    Team FFA was the hotness till the discontinued it in WCIII. Potato and I had the greatest comback EVER in a 2vs2vs2.

    StarCraft was cool, but my small brain couldn’t handle the changes with Brood Wars and when Potato could counter my 200 unit Muta rush with like 2 science vessels… I moved to WoW. :P

    I’m really more interested in the story progression; I’m a lore whore.

    BTW, anybody seen the latest video for Star Wars: Force Unleashed? Wow.

  4. Potato Says:

    Funny you mention Brood Wars: I really liked that expansion pack, and found a use for pretty much all the new units — I found they really bolstered a weakness in each race, and there weren’t too many to make it confusing. They all just seemed to fit seamlessly into the armies I was building already.

    On the other hand, I had a lot of trouble adapting to WarCraft III: Frozen Throne. I just couldn’t figure out how to use some of the new units or how they should fit into the armies I was building. It didn’t help that at the same time the core mechanics of the game were changed (magic damage introduced, unarmored unit introduced, siege damage changed, etc). After taking a break from WCIII to play WoW for over a year, I went back and still couldn’t get the hang of Frozen Throne — and it seems I wasn’t the only one. I played the original (Reign of Chaos), and it was a lot easier to find a game :) I think part of the problem was that the new units didn’t fit into the single player missions very well, either: they were so busy showing us the Naga, Dreani, new heroes, and RPG-aspects that they didn’t get enough “regular” missions in…

    There were a lot of good games we played in WCIII, and I have especially fond memories of a lot of the come-from-behind wins. The FFA match one took forever — it involved a lot of waiting for the other two sides to kill each other if I remember right, and it was glorious. The greatest one EVER though would have to be the 3v3 with Nebug, Inx, and myself. The other team rushed us right off the bat, and wiped Netbug out. Inx got disconnected (if memory serves). So of course they started swearing and chanting “drop noobs”, etc. Netbug & I took control of Inx’s base, we built up, and took some expansion sites, then took one of them out — but lost Inx’s base (or was it my base?) when they countered. To more calls to drop, we rebuilt again, launched a sneak attack, and, again if memory serves, bounced back from base to base of theirs doing hit and runs until they were defeated.

    So, because I can’t stop talking about Blizzard RTS games once I get going:

    StarCraft had the Terrans with a slight weakness in the repair department (their mechanical units had very good repairs with SCVs, but it was strictly manual, and you had to bring along an SCV of course; the Protoss would regenerate shields but not armour on all their units, and the Zerg regenerated everything; the Terran infantry couldn’t heal at all, which would really suck if they used stimpacks unnecessarily). The medic fit right in there with some passive healing for the infantry, as well as being able to blind observers and cleanse parasites and the like. The Terrans, on the other hand, had a strength with units that could attack while stealthed (the Protoss could do this with an arbiter, but you could always see the arbiter, so it was harder to be sneaky; the Zerg could “stealth” most of their units by burrowing, but none could attack from that position), so the Protoss (dark templar) and Zerg (lurker) each got a unit that could pull this trick off. And in the air, the Terrans and Protoss each got a smallish, low-damage but rapid-fire/area effect air-to-air only ship to counter mutalisk waves. The Zerg got the devourer upgrade to better attack battlecruisers and carriers. The only unit in the expansion pack that didn’t seem to help round out the forces or otherwise improve balance was the dark archon — it’s the only unit in the game with mind control. When used to capture a unit, the ability is not too unbalancing: it would suck to lose say a battlecruiser or ultralisk to the other side at an inopportune time, but at least the fairly expensive archon loses all its shield when it does so, making it fairly easy to kill (if you can reach it). However, in big, long games the mind control ability is the only way for a side to expand beyond the population cap — it is a pain to do so by capturing units, and costly to do so by capturing a drone or SCV and building up the tech tree with another race — but a possibility the other two races lack nonetheless.

    With regular StarCraft, I could counter a muta rush with a few science vessels (or as protoss, by using the arbiter stasis field to make it two 100-unit muta rushes :) — Brood War didn’t change that, it just gave me a second option of using valkyries/corsairs (which didn’t require nearly as much micromanagement).

    Frozen Throne had a lot of new stuff all at once: the heroes, the units, the shops, the ships, the tech slowdown, the unit cap changes, and the damage calculations. Each race seemed to get a unit that further enhanced one of its strengths, and one that helped enhance a weakness:

    The Humans got the dragonhawk rider, which helped make up for their lack of a siege air unit (rather than being big and destructive, it can cancel the effect of air-to-air towers, letting the griphon riders and gnomish air machines do the job). The spell breaker, on the other hand, was useful but not essential: the humans already had a powerful dispel in the form of priests (the only area effect dispel).

    The orcs got the batrider, which could self-destruct to cause major damage against air units and buildings, complementing the otherwise well-rounded wyvern rideres. The orcs already ruled the spellcaster game (it was the strength of an all-spellcaster orc army that made Blizzard rework the combat damage system) with very powerful area of effect and autocast buffs, the only weakness was that while they had the most powerful dispell in the game, it was extremely micromanaging-intensive to use. The spirit walkers gave them an area dispell like the humans, and a situational ressurection tool as well. To top it off, the spirit link ability could spread damage around, which is incredibly useful when the healing is also area wide.

    Night Elves got the mountain giant, which filled the gaping hole in their big melee unit slot. True, the whole point of the elves was to focus on ranged power and mobility, but when needed, the druids of the claw couldn’t go toe-to-toe with a knight, and were further reduced in utility on the front line by their need to switch forms to cast periodically. The Night Elves were also quite strong in the anti-spellcaster department: already having spell-immune dryads with the only autocast (single-unit) dispell. The faerie dragon adds another spell-immune anti-spellcaster to the mix (though this one damages casters rather than dispelling the spells), and furthermore, adds another air unit to a race that already has 4 to choose from (hippos, hippo riders, chimeras, storm crows). IMHO, the Elves could have used a dedicated utility caster — while the druids each have two very useful spells, their roles in other parts of the army take away from the “third spell slot”. Perhaps a moonkin druid?

    The Undead additions I never understood very well. The statue was useful as a way of healing or restoring mana — the undead were quite good at restoring health after a battle by standing on the scourge or eating corpses, but lacked combat healing. Of course, this was originally part of their thing: just let the units die, then resummon them as skeletons to fight again! The destroyer also had an area dispell that would heal it and restore mana, it could then use the mana gained to attack even harder.

    Spelling it all out like that doesn’t seem so bad, but I think the big thing that made it hard to find how to fit the new units into the old armies at the time was that the old armies had to change on their own due to the changes in the core of the game. It was also fairly overwhelming for me because I liked to play on random, so I had 4 races each with a hero and two units to learn, unlike StarCraft which just had 7 units (and a few new upgrades). In fact, I think I’ll give the Frozen Throne another try :)