Monday, July 26, 2010

T-Minus... 5 hours. SC2 Beginner's Guide (part 3)

It's almost time now, to not only find out how the next chapter in the StarCraft story is going to unfold... but it's almost time to once again be able to play StarCraft on

I've waited 12 years for this, and I'm excited. I've had my copy sitting on my desk at work... just staring at me, and taunting me for the last week about how I'm not yet able to buy it... Tomorrow morning, (or tonight if you're going to a midnight release) we'll finally be able to play.

In the final portion of my SC2 multi-player beginner's guide, I'll touch on a few tips on playing SC2's other two races... the Zerg, and the Protoss.


Back in the days of the original StarCraft, the Zerg was my favorite race to play. Due to this, during the SC2 Beta, I played quite a bit more of the Zerg than I did of the Terrans or Protoss. The Blizzard team have really done some awesome things to the Zerg in SC2. You truly get the feeling that you're controlling a "swarm" while playing the Zerg, which (in my opinion) is a lot of fun.

Zerg Tip #1: Overseers vs Overlords

I'm putting this as my "#1" tip for the Zerg because I didn't know this when I started playing the Beta.... and I got my ass kicked the first game because of it.

Unlike in the original StarCraft... Overlords do NOT detect cloaked or burrowed units.

I believe my reaction to this when I first realized it was something along the lines of "wtf?!".

Once you've built a Spawning Pool, and upgraded your Hatchery to a Lair, you can upgrade Overlords to the new unit called an Overseer.

Overseers can detect... Overlords cannot.

Overseers cannot transport units though, and Overlords can, so don't just upgrade every Overlord you have to an Overseer.

This is one fundamental change that Blizz made to the Zerg... and it really threw me off guard the first time I played compared to the Original StarCraft. The Overseer is a pretty cool unit though, so it's not too hard to get used to the change once you find other uses for the Overseer and realize they are more useful than an Overlord in other ways as well.

Zerg Tip #2: Nydus Networks

Nydus Canals were a staple of the Zerg in terms of ground troop mobility in the original StarCraft.... but if the map was large and you had many places you wanted to move troops to quickly, it could get insanely confusing trying to keep track of all the entrance and exits for each canal.

In SC2, they simplify the Nydus concept while maintaining the awesome mobility they provided in the original game. Enter the Nydus Network and the Nydus Worm. To use it, you build the original Nydus Network structure somewhere on Creep. You can then spawn Nydus Worm "exits" for the anywhere on the map that you can see. Each worm exit costs (currently) 100/100, and generate creep (which allows you to build defenses around it if you want).

You don't have to spawn the Nydus Worm exits on Creep!... but, the exits have very low hp and no armor, so they die quickly if attacked.

To move your units via the Nydus Network, you simply select your units you wish to have go through the network and right click on any Nydus Network or Nydus Worm and they will load into it like a transport. Then click the worm or "exit you wish to have them exit through and click the "unload" button. Any Nydus Network/Worm can be entered or exited from any other Nydus network/worm.

These networks allow a Zerg player to very quickly and easily move large numbers of ground units from one point on the map to another.

My tip is that the Nydus Network is an excellent way to support and defend multiple expansions with ground forces, without being required to keep your units stationed at those expansions.

Zerg Tip #3: Queens

Probably the biggest change in SC2 to a unit that kept the same name from the original StarCraft is the Queen.

In the original SC, the Queen was an offensive support/caster unit. In SC2, the Queen is a defensive powerhouse that stays near your base. In the original SC, the Queen was a fast moving air unit... in SC2, she's a relatively slow moving ground unit.

Why would Blizzard keep the same name for the Queen when she's a completely different unit?... probably because Queen is a much more fitting name for a unit like this when you consider that a Zerg base is essentially structured like an insect hive. Think Queen Bee instead of Queen of Blades. The Queen's movement is severely slowed if she is not on Creep, making her an excelent unit to defend your base, but a poor choice to take on the offensive.

The Queen in SC2 will allow your Hatchery/Lair/Hive to produce more larvae which allows you to build more units. The Queen will not do this automatically though. My tip here is remember to tell your queens to spawn more larvae as often as you can. Also, Queens make pretty decent T1.5 anti-air defensive units.


My SC2 knowledge on the Protoss is semi-limited considering I played very few matches during the SC2 Beta as the Protoss.... I did however spend the majority of my matches playing against the Protoss, and learned that the Protoss is a very cool (and powerful) race.

Protoss Tip #1: Warp Gates vs Gateways

Probably the biggest change to the way Protoss play their ground game in SC2 is the introduction of Warp Gates instead of Gateways to spawn in units.

You still have to build Gateways (the Protoss version of a Barracks) but once they're built, you can research Warp Gate technology.

Once you have the Warp Gate tech, you can convert any number of your Gateways into Warp Gates. You can convert them back into Gateways later if need be.

Warp Gates allow you to instantly "warp" in any unit that you would normally be able to make at a Gateway to anywhere powered by a friendly Pylon... (and yes, Warp Prisms count as Pylons). The units you warp in still cost the same amount of resources to warp in as they would if you would make them at a Gateway.

For example, say you have a bunch of Warp Gates ready to warp in units at your main base, but one of your expansions is being attacked. You can then select those Warp Gates, and "warp-in" units from those Gateways to that expansion (assuming you have a Pylon up at the expansion).

There is a cooldown on warping units in, and you cannot queue up units to warp in like you can at a Gateway, but it does give the Protoss versatility on where and when they spawn units.

My tip is, early on in the game while you're still building your initial army, it may not always be the best call to convert to Warp Gates right off the bat. Use the Gateways until you feel comfortable that you have a sizable force because you can queue up units to be built and don't have to always be watching your Warp Gate cooldown. Once you feel comfortable you can convert them to Warp Gates, but there is not always a need to do so right away.

Protoss Tip #2: Void Rays.

By far, the most widely used Protoss unit I came across while playing against Protoss players was the Void Ray.

They're popular for a reason: They're powerful....

...but only if you use them correctly.

The beam weapon the Void Rays use becomes more powerful and "charges up" the longer you use it continually. If you stop attacking with it for too long (I believe it's three seconds, but that may have changed in a patch) you lose your charge and you have to start all over again.

My tip is, if you're going to go Void Rays, make sure you try to keep attacking targets and keep that charge up. Don't let an enemy player lure you away from your target and lose your charge, or you'll lose a good chunk of your offensive power.

Protoss Tip #3: Multiple Pylons

Many newer StarCraft players who are just starting out with Protoss make the simple mistake of building too few Pylons.

Protoss buildings need to be powered by Pylons, or they shut down and cannot function. You see many new players building 2093820 buildings... all powered by one Pylon. An enemy comes in, and focuses on that single Pylon and they have effectively shut down your entire base because all your buildings are sitting dormant without power.

My tip is to try to make sure that as often as you can, make sure your buildings are powered by multiple Pylons, and that your Pylons are protected. This part of playing Protoss did not change with SC2, but it's still a mistake I saw pretty often while playing Beta.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man - my copy is all downloaded and ready to roll. Just gotta get off work first. I really hope the single player campaign lives up to being awesome, and that it introduces new units like the original did.

    I'm so gonna get my ass smoked by a zerg rush.