Starcraft 1.5, or Starcraft 2?
There’s been a lot of weary forum users making the claim that Starcraft 2 is really just Starcraft 1.5. This will be the topic of this article. I’ll start out by listing all the new changes for Starcraft 2 and Battle.net 2.0.
Removed Science Vessel
That’s a pretty hefty chunk of units from the Terran arsenal that have been removed. Mind you this is still beta so this is all subject to change.
That means that 62% of the the Terran units are brand new.
Terran Macro Mechanics
The Terran has a unique macro mechanic that is used after upgrading the Command Center to an Orbital Command center. What it does is collect 30 minerals every load, but takes about 3 times longer than an SCV per load. Basically that would mean it independently collects about twice as fast as an SCV does.
The downside to using the MULE however is that a player must sacrifice the usage of a scanner sweep; both abilities take your Orbital Command’s Energy. This has been the cause of some lost games. Terran players must be careful not to get greedy.
Now we’ll take a look at the Protoss.
Removed Arbiter (debatable)
Removed Dark Archon
There weren’t as many units removed from the Protoss arsenal, let’s take a look at the units added though.
Not bad, only one less unit than the Terran side.
54% of the Protoss units are brand new. The Mothership is almost exactly like the Arbiter however so there is room for debate there.
Protoss Macro Mechanics
The Protoss have an ability called Chronos that is available directly from the Nexus. It costs 25 energy, and speed up any building production by 30% for a period of time. This is an extremely powerful macro mechanic because it can be used to build fast probes in the early game, it can be used to get a Zealot harassing very early game, or it can be used to get some very fast upgrades.
The only downside to the Protoss macro mechanic is what you don’t use it on. If you decide to pump out a heavy amount of units, your economy will most likely fall behind your competition’s economy. It could put you in a position to make a push but if the push fails you’ll probably be in trouble.
Now my personal favorite: the Zerg.
Removed Lurker (This has been causing some controversy)
Not bad… not bad. I may catch some flak for adding the Queen to this list, but I think it’s pretty apparent that Starcraft 2’s Queen isn’t even close to the original.
Zerg got the most new units. The Infestor is kind of like the Defiler, and is certainly meant to be it’s replacement. Right now I question the viability of it however.
Overlord* – No longer has detection capabilities. This was replaced by the Overseer.
56% of the Zerg units are brand new.
Zerg Macro Mechanics
If you compared the new Zerg macro mechanic to the other Macro mechanics, I think you’d find that there’s less room for debate on which Queen option is the most effective. The Queen has three macro abilities: Spawn Creep Tumor, which extends creep radius in a spiral outward from the tumor. This can be used to connect bases or perhaps for scouting. One of the most important upsides to this is creep allows vision, and faster movement for your units.
The other ability is to restore a units health or a building’s health. This can be used on defensive structures. I think the downside to this though is that any mediocre skilled player will attack the Queen relatively quickly. And to save the best for last, the Queen also has spawn larvae. For 25 energy (like her other abilities), the Queen injects larva into your hatcheries and after a period of time, the hatchery will spit out 4 extra larva. This can be quite devastating early game, and the only reason I can see players using the other options is if the game gets past early game. This is by far the most effective option for your war camp. More units = more power, more economy, or whatever you want.
Some of the largest changes in Starcraft 2 do not come with the new units. They come in the form of new mechanics. Starcraft 2 is now an actual 3-dimensional game. What this means is the Terrain levels are for more than just looks now. Units like the Reaper and Colossus can actually go over higher level terrain.
Now this might not seem like much, but this changes entirely the effect of ramps in the game. In Starcraft 1, you absolutely had to go through static defenses to assault a base barring drops and Nydus canals. This made the ramp an extremely powerful (and sometimes irritating) map feature. Economy harass can now be accomplished much earlier in the game should your opponent decide to mass photon cannons outside his ramp.
Another new gameplay mechanic that Starcraft 2 has added is in the form of destructible rocks. These are generally back-doors into your opponents base, and if they aren’t watchful you could have a 1-way ticket straight to their main. Or they to yours. These new mechanics have seriously hindered the effect of turtling, which means you wall up in your base (generally a Terran favorite with siege tanks). I consider this a very good thing, because turtling is a very bad strategy in the fact that it allows your opponents free reign over the entire map. You may be able to hold them off for a few minutes, but they’ll eventually get enough minerals, gas, and units to pummel any sort of defenses you may be able to build on one base.
The economy in Starcraft 1 is generally very confusing. It’s an almost organic system that scales un-proportionally to how many workers you have gathering. While the law of diminishing returns was very much in effect (each worker past a certain point was less effective than the previous) [especially due to the bad pathing in Starcraft 1], it did allow a viable strategy called Maynarding. Maynarding is credited to a certain player of the same name, where while building an expansion, you could make all the extra workers you needed for the expansion, effectively saturating the minerals as soon as the expansion was built.
In Starcraft 2, worker pathing and pathing in general is very much improved. Workers don’t fly around trying to find an available mineral patch. In fact, they’ll patiently wait the few milliseconds it takes for another worker to finish mining. What this means though, is there is nearly a cap on how many workers per base is effective. It’s generally thought to be 2 workers per patch in Starcraft 2. This is a great thing, but it does severely hinder the benefits of Maynarding. While those workers you were making in Starcraft 1 would still help your economy while you waited for your expansion, the benefit is severely reduced in Starcraft 2. What this effectively means is that every expansion takes much longer to actually saturate to be efficient. This also means that losing an expansion early on is devastating because you won’t earn back the cost quickly.
Unit selection cap, and multiple building select
Another widely debated topic amongst hardcore fans is the new unit selection cap. Starcraft had a cap of 12 units that could be selected at once due to old user-interface problems. The new game though, Starcraft 2, allows for up to 255 units to be selected at once. This changes gameplay so much! Instead of 1a2a3a (Hotkey, attack, etc.) it’s click and drag mouse, a. I actually really like this new mechanic, as it doesn’t take 150 APM to simply assault a base. I think it allows for more strategy as a newer player, and welcome it.
Pro players may find a distaste for it, because they may assume it lowers the skill cap between pro players and mediocre players. I somewhat disagree, because just sending all your units into an attack can be a very bad thing as well; it can cause you to lose your entire army if you don’t pay attention. Pros will still use hotkey groups and try to attack from multiple places at once.
Multiple building select is another thing that may be seen as lowering the overall skill ceiling of the game. It’s yet another thing I disagree with. MBS lets you select multiple gateways, hatcheries, or any other production buildings at once. What I think this really means is less hotkeys to worry about. Macro certainly has been made easier (especially with the new rally attack), but it isn’t something I find has lowered the skill ceiling. If a player makes 400 Zerglings, but your opponent has a good mix of colossus, zealots, or carriers, the player with the Zergling army will be destroyed barring a Nydus canal (at a similar unit cap). And the fact still remains that you should never let your opponent make 200 of anything!
You can produce units in a more efficient manner, but all the strategy is still there. If a player forgets to use the previously mentioned macro mechanics, he/she will also be at a very strong disadvantage.
I think the game is deserving of the title Starcraft 2. Many of the originals bad interface chokepoints have been fixed, thus making it a bit easier for players new to the series to jump in. Blizzard however also kept E-sports a very important priority, and has maintained a level of multi-tasking that certainly is not easy to master. I think we’ll be seeing plenty of exciting games from lots of Starcraft pros like Jaedong, Flash, Bisu, etc. should they choose to switch over. This game is new, gorgeous, has excellent music, and certainly has a competitive edge to it. There are more -hard- counters than the original, so the way the strategies need to be implemented are different.
Here are some Starcraft 2 Videos and Replays in 1080p! Hope you enjoy!
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