On April 30th 2010, I did something that I’ve been looking forward to for thirteen years.  I pressed play on the beta for Starcraft II.  How did I come to press this gilded button of wonder?  The good people at gamestop.ca gave me a free beta key because I am a twitter ninja.  Once again, thank you gamestop.ca, you’re my favourite website that isn’t my own.

As Starcraft II is still in beta, I don’t think it is fair to “review” the game.  Since its release, the game’s multiplayer has been patched ten times.  Clearly, Blizzard is actually listening to its beta testers.  Instead of reviewing, I’m going to talk about the multiplayer beta generally as well as offer you some of my battle journals.

Starcraft II’s beta currently offers 1v1 and 2v2 ladder matches, as well as the ability to join some custom games.  Furthermore, the tenth patch released a map editor.  It won’t be long until people can enjoy a classic round of Big Game Hunters with bottomless resources. To ensure that players are matched against competitors of their skill level, the ladder matches allow players five matches to showcase their skills before they are placed in a league befitting their talents.  For my 1v1 placement, I opted to go with my strongest Starcraft I race, the Terrans.

Battle Journal: Match 1 – 8:35pm April 30th 2010.  Terrans (me) vs. Terrans

–          My first match in Starcraft II was a disappointment.  Forty-five seconds into the match, my opponent dropped.  I was credited with a victory for building two SCVs and harvesting some crystal.  Note to Blizzard: games like this must be counted as a draw, not a win.  People are going to move up the ladder based on bad internet connections, not talent.

–          First impressions of the game:  The Terran background music reminded me of Firefly, which is an epic win in of itself.  Starcraft I’s classic keyboard commands have carried over into the new iteration.  There’s not much more to report on this battle as nothing really happened.  I should mention that the post-game screen has become something more useful than a scoreboard.  In addition to automatically recording the game for your review, SC II’s post-game will show all players’ build orders.  Hey South Korean players, all those top secret build orders that you use to beat me like a red headed step-child won’t be secret for long.

Battle Journal: Match 2 – 8:39pm April 30th 2010.  Terrans (me) vs. Zerg

–          Great the Zerg.  I prepared for the inevitable Zergling rush by blocking the choke point to my base with a Bunker and some Supply Depots.  Terran Supply Depots have become uniquely strategic in Starcraft II.  Depots now have the capacity to drop down, allowing other units to pass over them.  No longer will I need to shoot my way through my turtle shell.  Of course, I was too busy looking at all the new building options to manage my budget properly.  So when fifteen Zerglings came, they were met with a lowly four Marines sans bunker.  My demise was swift.  I don’t remember the Zerg being able to build that quickly.

Battle Journal: Match 3 – 8:47pm April 30th 2010.  Terrans (me) vs. Zerg, again.

–          Another fucking Zergling rush and subsequent crushing defeat.  I remember when I used to pwn at this game.  Only too late did I discover that the Terran Barracks has an option that allows for the production of two Marines at a time.  The trade off is that if you opt for speed then the Barracks can’t produce any of the higher tier units.  The Terrans were always the most versatile race in Starcraft; it’s clear that they have only grown stronger in that respect.  I am a little disappointed to see that the Firebats are gone.  The Marauders and Reavers, which remind me a lot the mobile infantry from Starship Troopers – the novel not the movie – more than make up for their absence.

Battle Journal: Match 4 – 8:55pm April 30th 2010.  Terrans (me) vs. Terrans

–          The coward dropped after he caught sight of my Marines and Marauders.  My rat-bastard of a foe didn’t even give me a “GG”.  Rather than run to the post-game screen, I took the time to find his base and burn it to the ground.  It felt great.  During this match, I took some time to experiment, using a Barracks add-on to equip my Marines with combat shields and my Marauders with extra explosive shots.  Note to self: must remember to expand to a second base early.  Also, what happened to the medics?

Battle Journal: Match 5 – 9:10pm April 30th 2010.  Terrans (me) vs. Zerg

–          This was my last placement match.  Additionally, at seventeen minutes in duration, it was the longest of my first five matches.  I still lost, but it was close.  After resisting two waves of Zergling rushes, I managed to build a spaceport.  Since my foe didn’t bring anything against me except for Zerglings, I figured all I needed to do was build some wraiths and descend upon his Overlords.  After clicking on my spaceport my thoughts went something like this, “Wow four air units to choose from.  Wait a minute, where the fuck are my Wraiths?  I don’t know how to play Terrans without Wraiths.  Oh god, why have you forsaken me?  What’s this thing that looks like a Protoss Arbiter?  Let’s click on it to see what happens.”  It was actually the Starcraft II version of a science vessel; I sent it in to attack a Zerg base.  Things went downhill from there.  I managed to take out most of his ground units before he unleashed his swarm of Mutalisks on my base.  On a positive note, I learned that the Medics and Dropships of Starcraft I have been merged into a new unit called the Medevac.  Very cool.  With my placement match complete, Battle.net assessed me at a Bronze level and plopped me into 1v1 division #160.  At present, I’m ranked 48 out of 100 in said division.

In the next post, I’ll detail my first five official ladder matches.  In the interum, if you care for a match I’m ArchHeretic.prime on Bnet.  Come get some.