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Posted by Chuck Corbin on Jun 11, 2012

StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm New Units Showcased

The first expansion pack for StarCraft II, titled Heart of the Swarm, is going to mix things up as Blizzard showed in a video they released on Friday. Set after the events of Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm deals with Kerrigan’s quest to regain control of the Zerg Swarm. Of course, after any major engagement as seen in the Wings of Liberty, the three different races have made a few changes to their armies, which will throw out all the old tactics right out the window.

The Terran seem to have brought back the Spider Mine from the original StarCraft, except that they’ve made a few changes to how it works. This time, it’s built from from the Factory, and after burying itself in the ground, it attaches itself to any ground or air unit that comes in range. Once it’s attached to an enemy unit, a timer counts down and once it hits zero the mine detonates, causing 200 damage to the unit and also causing splash damage to nearby units. The Warhound is another new unit for the Terran, that’s specialized as an anti-mechanical ground mech similar to the Thor. While it has a standard weapon for ground fire, it also launches missiles at ground based mechanical units. The Terran’s also have a new ability for the Hellion, where it can transform into a battle mode which gives it more hitpoints and a stronger flame attack, though it sacrifices mobility in the process. I’m not going to lie when I say that I think that the battle mode looks stupid. To me, it looks just like something out of Transformers, and doesn’t really belong in my opinion in StarCraft. The only other changes of note is that the Battlecrusier has a cooldown-based speed-boost ability called Redline Reactor,  and that the Reaper no longer has a special building attack but instead has a passive-health regeneration upgrade that lets it heal quickly when out of combat.

The Protoss have made a few changes as well, mostly when it comes to their fleet. The Tempest is a new capital ship that fires at both ground and air targets from a very long range, and deals massive damage to massive units. At this time, it’s completely replaced the Carrier, though Blizzard may choose to keep the Carrier in at some point down the line. The Oracle is another new ship that’s meant to harass the enemy behind their base. By using the ability Preordain, the Oracle can see anything around a targeted building. The Oracle also has the ability Entomb which blocks mineral fields from being harvested unless the enemy destroys the shields blocking the minerals. One of it’s best abilities, however, is its Cloak Field, which will cloak everything around the Oracle. However, unlike the Arbiter and the Mothership before it, this Cloak Field is an activated ability, and the Cloak Field will end once the Oracles powers have drained. And speaking of the Mothership, that too has undergone some changes. No more is the Mothership a unit that is built straight from the Nexus, instead what  happens is that the Protoss player will instead build the Mothership Core at a Nexus. The Mothership Core can’t move, however it does have a Teleport ability to move from Nexus to Nexus. It has the Energize ability to top of energy stores for any friendly unit or structure, and Purify is a defensive ability that turns the Mothership Core into essentially a long range cannon. The Core also has Mass Recall will let you recall any of your units back to the Core if they get in trouble, or if the Core itself in under a lot of trouble. The Mothership Core can be upgraded to the Mothership, and while the Vortex spell only affects ground units, it does have the ability Stasis, which puts the Mothership and all air units around it in stasis for about 20 seconds, perfect for if it’s under attack and you need a few seconds to send in reinforcements.

The Zerg are the focus of the new expansion pack, and they haven’t been overlooked. One of their more deadly new units is the Swarm Host, which burrows into the ground and spawns a continuous stream of  Locusts towards the enemy. The cost for the Locusts is free, though they don’t have a long lifespan. However, their disposability makes them perfect for laying siege to an enemy base, or even keeping your base intact. The Viper is a new air unit with some powerful abilities. Blinding Cloud reduces the attack range of biological ground units in the cloud to melee range, and Abduct allows the Viper to physically pull a unit to the Vipers location, perfect for when you have a pesky Siege Tank raining death on your Hydralisks. It also has the ability Consume, only instead of eating one of your own units, it’ll instead damage one of your buildings to a degree but give the Viper some energy back. The Ultralisks have a new ability called Burrow Charge that lets them dive underground and basically swim towards a target at lightning speed. It no longer has the “Frenzy” passive, however, which means it can be snared. Changelings can be spawned from siege range, and the Hydralisk has a new upgrade that lets it basically move as fast off as it can on creep.

So there you have it. Overall, I like most of what’s going on, although like I said I thought the Battle Hellion was pretty stupid looking. Who knows, though, maybe it’ll become an indispensable part of the Terran strategy? The Protoss Tempest looks weird as well, but with its wicked long range (that’s longer than even a siege tank!) I’ll give it a pass. My favorite unit that I saw out of here was probably the Oracle, because it can do so much to harass the enemy, making sure that the other player has to take his eyes off the front lines for even a few seconds to make sure that his cash flow keeps going. So take a look at the video on the bottom, and let us know what you guys think of the different units!

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