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Archive for July, 2010

Starcraft II: When to join multiplayer

As the launch of Starcraft 2 is only one day away, people will have to make the choice whether to start with single or multiplayer. Many competitive players are probably going to skip the whole single player campaign, while there are also plenty of people with no interest at in multiplayer. If you want to play both, there’s the dilemma of what is the best time to start multiplayer. During the first few days the leagues are still being formed, because everyone is playing his/her placement games. This means that the chance to get an unbalanced game is larger than it will be in a few weeks (or even months) when the leagues are settled. So ending up in either Platinum or Bronze league is simply not going to matter, nor is there any real prestige in getting #1 Diamond during the first evening unless you can keep that spot in the coming months.

People who have not played the beta at all should start with single player and with the special challenges that Blizzard has included to help people get into multiplayer. Anyone who has played the Beta can start whenever they want, but I am personally planning to spend the first evening on single player to avoid the hardcore players.

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Starcraft II: Surviving patch 17

I am not going to play too much Starcraft II next week, I am going to watch Day9’s King of the Beta tournament instead (while playing some MMO), which has a line up that guarantees epic battles. Not much has happened in the last week. The client does seem more stable than when the beta came up again. I am slowly getting to the point where I no longer lose games that I should win, but lose because I am too eager to end it. My worst game so far in that category was against Protoss. I had map control, he only had two bases, I had four and he burst out with ten or so Void Rays while I was eating away at his base with a mixed Corruptor / Brood Lord force. I had the resources to completely fortify my home base, or build Hatcheries literally everywhere. Instead, I watched the Broodling show, forgetting how fast charged up Void Rays (with speed upgrade even) can break down a base. My last building went down before his /facepalm for myself. And of course,  I could and should have attacked much, much earlier.

Patch 17 contains some minor tweaks, but many of those seem to add up to making Reaper rushing easier. On the other hand, I have not experienced a single Reaper rush lately. Perhaps people have learned to deal with them. Cannon rushes are rare too. On the other hand, prepare for all kinds of cheese when the game goes live,  because many people are going to want to take advantage of the lack of experience of many of the completely new players.

Terran

  • 250mm Strike Cannons can no longer deal damage to hidden targets.
  • Barracks build time decreased from 65 to 60 seconds.
  • Bunker build time decreased from 40 to 30 seconds.
  • Hellion range reverted from 6 to 5.
  • Reaper build time decreased from 45 to 40 seconds.

Faster barracks + faster bunker + faster reapers = more reaper rushes. Protoss beware.

Protoss

  • Zealot build time decreased from 38 to 33 seconds.

Less waiting for Zealots to build is nice. Unfortunately, they are worthless against Reapers.

Zerg

  • Canceling morphing Banelings now returns 75% of the cost like other morphing Zerg units.

This is just a consistancy change. Canceling morphing Banelings is not something that often has to be done anyway.

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Starcraft II: Surviving patch 16

Starcraft II Beta is finally back online. It is definetely still a Beta and there’s plenty of polishing to be done as well as some serious engine work to keep both the game and battle.net stable. I do hope they are not using skilled programmers to set up achievements, because, really, I do not care to get an achievement for watching a replay for the first time…

All profiles have been reset, of course, and I think there are still five matches to play to get ranked. However, I started with “2 games to be played” and then went on to “-2 games to be played”. I wonder what a negative game is. Between getting disconnect myself, my opponent getting disconnected and being really rusty I ended up in Bronze this time. Oh well, a long climb back up is more interesting anyway.

There was a small patch as well with only general and Zerg changes. Basically, the Ultralisk is now the Juggernaut, it cannot be stunned, mindcontrolled or slowed. This made the Infestor’s Frenzy spell worthless, so that was removed. It did get the Infested Terran back, which is a pity, since it was borderline useful while it was on the Overseer.

The major, general change is that rallied units will move instead of attack-move. This means that units go directly to where you want them to be, but it also implies that they can be killed along the way without fighting back. I think I prefer it the new way: attacking should be a conscious decision by the player.

The advice to survive patch 16: play enough to get rid of the rust in your play, but not that much that you will burn out before retail.

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We know Cataclysm is coming. Please play our game in the meanwhile.

Even if the beta for Cataclysm, World of Warcraft‘s upcoming expansion, had not started and if there had not been a great amount of information and video‘s available, then it would have been clear that something was close to happening from all the other MMO news. The WoW population may be deep in the pre-expansion boredom, but many people are still playing. This is the moment to get their interest, before they get too excited about Cataclysm. My mailbox was filled with interesting announcements and offers from other MMO’s this week.

Global Agenda removed its subscription model. Now it is just buy once and play forever. Even the first Expansion, Sand Storm, is free. This is great. There was not enough content in the game for me to subscribe, but it is so much fun in short bursts. I had taken a break from GA, because I was wondering how much I would retain of my time investment when the subscription system went live, but it is definitely on my list to play more now.

The European Warhammer Online servers are transferred from GOA to Mythic, now Bioware-Mythic. The split in publishers between US and Europe has not worked out too well in my opinion, with late patches etc. To celebrate the consolidation, every present and former GOA player will receive two weeks of free gameplay. Warhammer is still the game that I expected most from and was thus disappointed most in. It is also the only game that I gave more than one try to see if things had improved, so I’m quite happy with this free period.

Finally, Age of Conan is offering a free trial of their expansion for 10 days by e-mail. AoC still interests me. It was horrible at launch, but when I got another offer of free game time around Christmas 2009 it seemed that the game had matured quite nicely. That trial was not impressive enough to make me resubscribe, but it did make me watch out for AoC news again. So that’s another offer that I am going to take up.

If this keeps up, I shall end up with too many games to play and that will hopefully help keep the siren’s song of Cataclysm quiet.