Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Beta’

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.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,

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.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,

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.

Starcraft II: Surviving patches 14 and 15

The first phase of Starcraft II Beta ends June 17. While it would seem that Blizzard could take it easy and review the latest beta data at their leisure, they actually put out two patches this week. Patches 14 and 15 toned down Terran Mech play a bit, streamlined Zerg upgrades and reduced the strength of several popular upgrades.

While the game will no longer be playable, the client should still be able to show replays, which will enable great shows like Day9 Daily and Shoutcraft to continue casting.

Terran

At the start of Beta Terran play was dominated by Barracks units, mostly thanks to the strength of Marauders. However, Mech has slowly begone more and more powerful. When Siege Tank splash damage (all splash damage actually) was moved from the edge of the target unit to its center, splash suddenly hit many more units. Siege Tanks supported by Vikings and Marines or Hellions became a powerful play style. Perhaps a bit too powerful, since all Factory units received nerfs. The upgrades of Hellions and Thors (to air) lost their bonus damage to Light, while Siege splash damage was reduced from 60 to 50 per shot.

Vikings were hit as well with a reduction of their ground damage. People who realised that Viking ground damage was not bad at all were using large groups of them to gain both air control and do serious harassment on the ground.

The Reaper speed upgrade was reduced to 50/50. The strength of Reapers is in the very early game and there is no time to get upgrades then, so while it may seem a buff, it will rarely be used.

Protoss

Almost nothing happened to the Protoss. Archons now build in 12 instead of in 17 seconds, but they remain an expensive, mediocre unit compared to the High Templar.

Zerg

Zerg had so many upgrades to deal with and these were streamlined a bit. And perhaps the Ultralisk gained the upgrades to make it a viable end-game unit!

The Infestor and the Ultralisk no longer need a speed upgrade for their, respectively, burrowed and normal movement.  The Ultralisk also gained 50 hitpoints increasing its survivability (basically, another Sieged Tank shot is needed to bring it down). Meanwhile, the Brood Lord’s upgrade damage was reduced by 1, which is makes the Ultralisk more viable indirectly. The Roach upgrades for burrowed movement and burrowed regeneration were combined, which is fair since Roaches are no longer overpowerd at all anymore.

Energy costs were reduced for both the Corruption ability of the Corruptor and for the Infested Terran of the Overseer.

The change that I personally really hate is the increase of Overlord speed from 50/50 to 100/100. Scouting with Overlords was already pretty risky, so I felt the speed upgrade was absolutely needed to give them a chance. This also means that gaining the ability to do effective drops nows costs 300/300, which seems a bit expensive to me.

Conclusion

There were no enormous changes this patch, which is to be expected this close to launch. Balance is perhaps not yet perfect, but it is fair enough for release. I hope more effort will be put into effective matchmaking and Battlenet functionality.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: , ,

Starcraft II Basics: Scouting

May 30, 2010 1 comment

Scouting is one of the most important things to do during a Starcraft II map. If you do not know what your opponent is making, it will inevitably leading to nasty surprises. This article will cover several of the basics, including timing. Protection against scouting will be dealt with in another post.

Scouting is sending one of your units over to the opponent’s base / point of interest (like expansion spots) to find out what kind of units and buildings your opponents currently has and to get an idea of what he is planning. If you do not know where your opponent’s main base is, then that is the first priority of scouting. The distance between bases both on the ground and through the air is often an important factor of what will be built.

Timing

When to scout remains one of the most difficult things to learn for beginning players. Looking at your opponent’s base all the time may seem like a good idea, but by doing that, you are actually wasting resources. E.g. a Terran player using all energy of the Orbital Command to scout is not gaining minerals through M.U.L.Es.

The question to ask yourself is: Will information about my opponent impact the decision I am about to make?

For example: If your plan is to always build two Barracks and get one Extractor first whatever you opponent is doing, then you do not need any information from him up to that point.

For example: If your plan is to go all-in then you will probably not have to resources to do extensive scouting (you do need to know where your opponent is located), so scouting at this point will actually delay your attack.

For example: Can I safely expand now? depends on if your opponent has strike force ready to attack you.

For example: (As Protoss vs Terran) should I sacrifice economy to build a fast Stalker? depends on if your opponent is making fast Reapers.

There are many, many decisions to be made during an SCII match, so it is important to get as much information during a single scouting run to cover more than one decision. Learning that is a matter of experience.

Race specific

Every race has its own scouting methods. Basic workers are a good choice in many cases, although specialized units can be much more effective at it. However, scouting with those will automatically give your opponent a clue about some of your tech: e.g. do not scout with a Banshee if you are planning on using it to do a mineral line attack.

Terran

SCV’s make excellent scouts during the early game. Once the Orbital Command is up, it can be used for 50 energy. Note, however, that 50 energy could also be used on gaining minerals through M.U.L.Es. Fast air units like the Viking and Banshees (with and without) cloak are excellent choices as well. Personally, I like scouting with a Raven, because it can do some pretty safe harass with autoturrets as well. Reapers make fast and mobile scouts that can do massive damage to workers as well.

Protoss

Probes are good scouts, but the Observer is the true scout of the Protoss. It is difficult to stop as it is permanently cloaked. Phoenixes work as well. If you are investing in Sentries, the hallucination of a Phoenix can also be used as a cost-free scout.

Zerg

Zerg drones are good scouts, but they are soon overtaken by the cheaper Zerglings Speedlings can run through the smallest openings to get a total view of a base. They can also be buried at expansions to see if your opponent is building there. The Overlords make good early game scouts, but they are very slow without speed upgrade and thus vulnerable to early ranged units. A single Marine can take out a badly positioned Overlord and that will invariably lead to a supply problems. Later in the game speedy Overlords can do suicide flights. Overseers make excellent scouts as well. They can also drop the Changeling, but that will often be spotted.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: , , ,

Starcraft II: Surviving Patch 13

Patch 13 harshly reminded everyone that Starcraft II is still beta. Previously, the game seemed to be running as if live with some unit rebalancing in the works. The stability of Battlenet is very much down now. I did not get my placement matches done and not for lack of trying, I simply keep getting dropped. While there can always be unexpected problems because of patches, I am surprised that patch 13 was deployed right before the Pentecost weekend. I would expect that many people, like myself, were planning on playing during the holiday. The show matches from Asia vs Europe were suffering as well. Nevertheless, most games could be finished and they were both entertaining and awesome to watch.

There were not many changes in this patch, the most interesting ones probably for the Zerg. A bit of foreshadowing: Ultralisks are still useless.

Terran

Marine&Marauder(&Medivac) has been a strong and dominant combination through the whole beta. While mech play with tanks and Vikings is getting more popular, it remains strong. Now it has become even better the reduced cost for Combat Shields and Stim Packs.

Protoss

The Sentry and the Void Ray are the two units most hated by people fighting Protoss. I like both, because they are specialized units that require good control to work well (Sentry more than Ray). Both could tuned down a little bit. The Sentry’s Force Fields can now be destroyed by Massive units walking over them. This means that Collossi, Thors and Ultralisks can make a path.

Void Ray range was reduced from 7 to 6. It was possible on several maps to attack under the right angle and be as good as untouchable. This is no longer the case and completely fair in my opinion.

Zerg

The Zerg caster units reshuffled their abilities and even gains some new ones.

The Infestor lost the Infested Terran (seldom used, energy was necessary for Fungal Growth and Neural Parasite), but gained the Frenzy spell: for 25 energy a single biological unit gains a damage buff of 25% and becomes immune to all sorts of crowd control for 30 seconds. This is probably meant to be used for Ultralisks, but it also works on useful units.

The Overseer gained the Infested Terran. Creating units is much more useful for flying units than for the slow-moving Infestor. The Overseer also learned the Contaminate spell which was previously cast by the Corruptor. It prevents unit production/research for 30 seconds on an enemy building. This sounds like a great ability to use while scouting the enemy base.

The Ultralisk actually lost 150 health (from 600 to 450) and gained damage versus armored units at the cost of damage versus non-armored: 25 to 15 (+25 Armored).  This makes it actually more difficult to get to the armored units, since most of those are ranged, while melee is not armored. So it takes the Ultralisk longer to plow through the opponent’s melee to get to the tanks. Meanwhile, it still gets stuck on your own Zerglings. It did gain a true buff: damage versus buildings went up from 60 to 75. The Brood Lord is still doing everything the Ultralisk is supposed to do cheaper and more effectively.

Conclusion

Terran as a whole got buffed. Bio, but also Mech, since Marines are normal supporting units for Mech.

Protoss got a slight nerf, but nothing that will impact play style.

Zerg got a bit more interesting with the buffed caster units. The Ultralisk remains worthless as long as it has to compete with the Brood Lord.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,

Starcraft II: Surviving patch 12

Another week of not playing too much, but watching a lot of Shoutcraft and Day9 commentaries. Focusing purely on Protoss has improved my win/loss ratio, but I think I shall go back to Random once the game goes live, if I have enough time to become decent with all three races.

Patch 12 came pretty fast after patch 11. It is a small patch, but it has serious impact on the Zerg.

Terran

The Thor had to lose some weight. It was simply too big to move around effectively. A pity, visually, but understandable.

Protoss

The Forge takes longer to build and has less hitpoints. This was done to prevent Cannon rushes. Protoss players can build Pylons and then Photon Cannons in their opponent’s base. Once a few cannons are up, the base is pretty much doomed. This does not work against Terran, because marines can shoot the probe that’s building the Cannons/Pylons and because Terrans can simply lift off their main buildings and move to another location. Protoss and Zerg have a harder time catching the mobile Probe with their basic melee units.

Actually, it still works as I had just had it executed against me in a PvP game. I had never encountered it while playing Protoss myself, so I had no idea how many probes are necessary to kill the spawning cannons (it’s about 4) and I tried to kill his base with a few Zealots instead of containing the rush. Cannon rushing is probably going to stay a problem against lower skill players, but people will learn to deal with it.

There was apparently a problem with Motherships and Force Fields, so Vortex now removes all Force Fields in its range.

Zerg

And now for the big one:  Roaches have gone from one to two supply. This makes massing them much slower, because extra Overlords have to be built. While the Roach is powerful, it already received some serious nerfs. The reasoningwas that it was simply too powerful at 200 supply. However, how many times does a game reach 200 supply? I would not be surprised if they got a small buff next patch.

Conclusions

The Roach nerf may or may not be too much, but it is definitely going to make games involving Zerg more interesting, especially ZvZ, which always seemed to degrade into more Roaches between competent players. However, Terran is still going to mass Marauders since that unit remains strong, while the Immortal remains a solid choice for Protoss. I do expect that Protoss players will move towards more Warp gate units or that they do get the Robotics Bay but immediately skip to Colossus against Zerg.

Ultralisks are still pretty much worthless, of course.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,