StarCraft II Beta Patch 1

Last week Blizzard launched one of the most anticipated beta tests ever. StarCraft 2 has been in various playable forms since its announcement in 2007, but this is the first time players have had access to the game outside of special events. The original StarCraft was released in 1998 and has spent the last 12 years as one of the most popular multiplayer online games. The game is played professionally in South Korea where games are broadcast on three different channels dedicated to professional gaming.

The original StarCraft arrived right after I got out of PC gaming. I’ve recently become interested in it because of the new game coming out and from watching English commentary of Korean Starleague matches by people like Diggity.

I’m excited about the new game because despite the gameplay being essentially the same, new units and other elements mean new strategies and a chance for n00bs like me to be competitive. I don’t have a beta invite yet since they haven’t released a Mac client. I’ve been following some of the livestreams of beta testers on TeamLiquid.

Honestly, I’m mostly excited for the beta because it will be BROKEN. Now is the time when we’ll see some of the most bizarre strategies put into play as players shake out what is imbalanced and what Blizzard hasn’t managed to find in their internal testing. I think it’ll be really entertaining even if nothing useful comes of it.

It’s only been a week since the beta started and Blizzard has pushed their first patch—I’m surprised it came so quickly. I’m going to talk about some of the changes implemented in the patch and how it relates to what I’ve witnessed.

Terran Reaper:
The damage done from D-8 Charges has decreased from 40 to 30.
The delay between attacks for D-8 Charges has decreased from 2.5 to 1.8.

This just appears to be a fix to make the unit feel more responsive since it ends up only doing slightly more damage per second than before.

Terran Orbital Command:
The build time for this upgrade has decreased from 50 to 35.

This change was actually the catalyst for me writing this post. The Orbital Command is an upgrade to the Terran Command Center. It grants a few different abilities. I’ve seen it mainly used for calling down the MULE. The MULE is a super harvester that can quickly increase the mineral count for the Terrans. I’m surprised that they dropped the build time on this unit since most Terran players have decided that they must upgrade to Orbital Command immediately at the start of the match. I could see them shortening the build time to encourage players to use the unit, but it’s already widely used. I think this might be a change we see rolled back in the future and they’re testing to see if it gives the Terran too much of a lead.

Protoss High Templar:
Phase Shift: This ability has been removed from the game.

Phase Shift was like a Stasis field; it would lock down an enemy unit. I think this was pulled because High Templar are a little too easy to build for such a powerfull spell.

Protoss Gateway:
The build time of this building has increased from 50 to 65.

I’m surprised by this change. From what I’ve seen, the rate Protoss players have been building Gateways (their basic unit generators) up to this point doesn’t appear to give them too much of an advantage. This might be related to the new Protoss Nexus ability that lets them build units at a faster rate once the Gateway is up.

A couple weird things I’ve seen so far:

In this video, Blizzard employee David Kim shows just how destructive Banelings can be. The Baneling is a sacrificial Zerg unit. It’s created by morphing Zerglings in the field. They detonate on impact, but unlike Infested Terrans, they don’t cause each other to explode. I have seen Protoss players block Banelings using the new Force Field ability.

Last night I tuned into Psyonic Reaver and Diggity on Justin.tv testing out a silly strategy in 2 vs. 2 matches. They would each play as Terran. As quickly as possible, they’d build an Engineering Bay and get 150 Vespene Gas. Once they got those prerequisites they’d lift off their Command Centers and fly them over to their opponents’ bases, land them inside, and begin constructing a Planetary Fortress. The Planetary Fortress is a defensive turret that can take down ground units and buildings. It’s pretty good at destroying early game units (although it can’t handle air). They seemed to have the most success when taking on Protoss players, Zerg was able to put up a bit more of a fight. I’m sure Diggity will post the video and I’ll be sure to add it to this post.

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