Starcraft II: Where’s Me Warhound?

RPS chum Rich Stanton has been contemplating the loss of a classic Terran unit over in the Heart Of The Swarm beta. Here are his thoughts on the matter.

Let’s not beat around the bush: I love building Marines. Starcraft II may as well be called ‘Marines’ for me, because making lots of these little guys and then sending them off to destroy alien forces is pretty much all I’ve done for the past two years. Terran scrubs represent! Starcraft II rather encourages this, I think, because there isn’t really a better option for the Terran army than Marines. Sure, the odd fancy-pants will try Hellion openings, and gods among men like Thorzain can dominate with all-mech strategies – but for a bog standard Terran like me? Marines mate. A few Marauders, couple of Medivacs, if it’s Zerg or Terran then add a few Siege Tanks. It is often said that the Terran army in Wings of Liberty has more options than any other, which may be true, but things begin and end with the Marine.

So for Heart of the Swarm, the second of what will be three Starcraft II games (Episodes? Installments?), Blizzard’s goal for the Terran army is straightforward – make Mech as viable as the Marine. Every substantial addition to the Terran army in HotS comes out of the Factory, the second rung on the tech tree, a building that in Terran vs Protoss matches is currently used as a flying scout. Rather than for building anything

There were four new Factory units in HotS’s early days, two of which have subsequently been removed. The zone-controlling Shredder didn’t even make the beta, dropped in early 2012 because it apparently confused players and overlapped with Siege Tanks (I never got to use one). The Battle Hellion and Widow Mine are still in, and we’ll come to them. And then there’s the Warhound, unceremoniously dropped a mere two weeks into beta.

As we’ll see, the removal of the Warhound was probably the right decision – but also lost is the concept that went with it. The Warhound was the poster-boy for Terran vs Protoss in Heart of the Swarm, the unit that would make a manly Mech build against those uppity aliens have a bit more punch. At the moment almost every Terran plays out this matchup with a bio force, and if it reaches lategame said bio force dies to the AoE of the famous deathball. Generalisation much? Sure: but over two years of playing and watching Wings of Liberty, Terran bio vs Protoss is overwhelmingly how this matchup seems to pan out.

So the Warhound had a few things going for it. It was a mid-tier unit, something you could get out relatively early and amass in huge numbers as the game wore on – and, most importantly, it had an anti-mechanical attack. The Protoss army is almost entirely mechanical. This unit was intended to be our bread-and-butter, the stalwart of a Mech army that could finally teach those curvy-faced jokers who was boss.

Didn’t work out like that. Blizzard’s reason for removing the Warhound came down to two letters: OP. The Warhound’s damage-dealing potential was impossible to face, even for specifically anti-mech units like the Immortal. Blizzard rather amusingly said it was ‘a bit too all-round’, which led to the creation of the brilliant Youtube video ‘Warhounds are not a bit too all-round’, which uses the sandbox to show an equal supply of Warhounds trashing everything in the game.

OK, the Siege Tanks did well. Amusingly enough, the Warhound was supposed to be a Siege Tank counter in some respects. But the problem is obvious: they wreck most everything in equal supply. From this comes countless other issues, perhaps the biggest being the Warhound’s ability to annihilate workers – in other words, it was so good you could use it as both a frontline troop and a raiding unit. That ain’t right. It was lovely though.

This leaves the Terran race in Heart of the Swarm in a familiar situation. Because now the beta feels exactly like Wings of Liberty, and you’re using nothing but Wings of Liberty tactics with an odd sprinkling of the two new units that survive.

So what have we got? Battle Hellions and Widow Mines. The first I find hard to get excited about, though I have been using them – after a game gets past a certain point, if you’re using Hellions, you’ve got to give the upgrade a bash. There are situations where they’re much, much better than Hellions, but is it the kind of unit you’d build a strategy around? No way. It’s a situational transformation, one that can be very useful indeed, but outside of toasting Zealots it’s not an army backbone.

Widow Mines are more interesting, because they’re usually talked about like a direct replacement for Brood War’s Spider Mines. They don’t really work like that. Providing you were building Vultures, which you always were, Spider Mines were spammable in great deathclumps, so you could booby-trap flanking paths pretty much for free. The Widow Mine is its own unit – constructed at the Factory for 75 minerals, 25 gas, and taking up 2 army supply. That investment means building too many will cripple your main army; too few, and you’re not covering much ground at all. This is why, though I’ve tried them out plenty, I’d never build Widow Mines in a game I wanted to win.

“I would put the challenge out to our Terran players,” said SCII’s lead designer Dustin Browder on the Blizzard forums. “With the units in their current state, can you go mech or partially mech against Protoss? In this beta does it have to be bio? If it still has to be bio, what modifications to the current units should we make to make it more viable? Or is it really impossible without Warhound or something like Warhound?”

All I can say is that in the Heart of the Swarm beta I do what I did in Wings of Liberty, which is build a tonne of bio and then a sprinkling of other units to complement it. Judging from the pro games in the beta I’ve watched, many Terrans much better than I are doing the same. Without the Warhound, an all-purpose mech stalwart, that’s the problem. I wouldn’t dream of telling Blizzard what the solution is – Wings of Liberty is a classic. It’s the kind of game that shows how talented Starcraft II’s designers are, and then something like the Warhound’s swift removal (two weeks into a beta after two years in development) shows how seriously those same people take player feedback.

But there has to be something, because with the loss of the Warhound there is a gap where new Terran options should be. Not to mention that in simple ‘fancy new toys’ terms it makes Heart of the Swarm an unexciting prospect for a big chunk of its playerbase – do you want to pay £40 for a Hellion transformation and a mine? From the scrubby Terran perspective, and perhaps this speaks to my own limitations, playing Heart of the Swarm’s beta doesn’t feel different from Wings of Liberty. There’s nothing fresh about it, I’m building the same things in the same patterns, everything is overly familiar. And we all know what that, eventually, will breed.


  1. Zaphid says:

    I like this article, but I have no idea how many people reading it are even familiar with competitive RTS mechanics for it to make sense.

    That said, there’s plenty of good articles criticizing SC2’s mechanics, particularly terrain and zone control, or lack of those to be exact. Good mech is slow mech, so Blizzard should probably emphasize the tank as the backbone with meatshields (battle hellion) and AA (Thor/Goliath) thrown into the mix.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I can confirm that it is absolute gibberish to me.

    • Noise says:

      Agreed. The Warhound wasn’t a mech unit. Sure it was “mechanical” and built at the factory, but it plays like an even bigger Marauder. Mech is about Siege Tanks. A slow controlled push. Positional play. The Warhounds just waltz in and kill everything. I am so glad blizzard removed it, but at the same time they could use some kind of buff to a Siege Tank oriented strategy.

    • Sic says:

      The Warhound was completely silly, and I have no idea how Blizzard could reimplement anything even remotely similar without it being almost equally silly.

      That being said, I also don’t like the Widow Mine at all. It feels like they wanted to add Spider Mines, but were scared people would call them lazy, so instead they made a sub-par copy.

      They should have just brought back Spider Mines. Made it an upgrade for the Hellion, and we would have been in business. That even forces Terran players to think about how aggressive they want to be with their mobile mine squad. It’s a perfect fit, just like it was for the Vulture.

      Sure, cutting the Warhound and Widow Mine means that Terran is getting less units for MP in HoTS, but lets face it, that’s not really a good argument against the quality of the expansion. The job Blizzard sets out to do is to make three balanced races. Everyone knows that Terran was far and beyond the most complex and complete race in the original game. Should there be additions? Of course, but it’s not like every race needs the exact same amount of new units. The focus should be on having all the races be balanced and give all races good tools to be diverse. If that means thinking a bit more about how to expand the Terran race in MP, then so be it. They (obviously) shouldn’t worry about “a big chunk of the player base paying £40 for a Hellion transformation and a mine”, simply because that’s not what’s happening at all.

  2. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    Honestly I was expecting the Warhound to get stomped by rabid GW lawyers.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      There is no other kind. They must shred intellectual property documents with their teeth before they’re allowed their diet of raw meat every morning.

    • Bhazor says:

      Oh if they got in trouble for copying Gamesworkshop then the Starcraft and Warcraft games would really be in trouble.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      For years, I’ve been expecting Blizzard’s entire lineup to get stomped by rabid GW lawyers, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s strange, considering how litigious Games Workshop normally is.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Especially-especially given there are GW-licensed games in the same genres as Blizzard’s.

      • NathanH says:

        I suppose Blizzard are too big and powerful, and would obviously fight back, and to be honest the similarities between the IPs are mostly concept rather than specifics. I mean, obviously Zerg are like Tyranids, but GW have the rights to Tyranids, not to the concept of a hive mind race that gobbles through organics and turns them into new creatures.

      • Werthead says:

        If the story that WARCRAFT was born because Blizzard wanted to make a WARHAMMER game but GW refused to license the property, you’d think they’d have even more of a leg to stand on (i.e. “They wanted to make a game with out IP, we said no, so they made something very similar instead,”).

        However, I think the big problem is that the concepts are too general rather than specific (though a few things skirt that definition rather closely) and that GW might come off as a bit hypocritical, given that GW themselves were influenced a lot by things like ALIEN, STARSHIP TROOPERS and DUNE.

        In addition, WARCRAFT is now almost 20 years old, and STARCRAFT will be 15 next May. If GW wanted to take legal action, they really should have done so long before now.

      • drewski says:

        GW only really bring in the artillery when you actually copy their stuff, not when you’re just (heavily) inspired by it.

  3. kikito says:

    > And we all know what that, eventually, will breed.

    I don’t. What will it breed?

    • Kollega says:

      Contempt, young padawan. “Familiarity breeds contempt”, or so the old saying goes.

    • kikito says:

      Oh, I didn’t know that idiom – English is not my mothertonge.

      In Spanish the say goes like this: “La confianza da asco”. Literally it means: “Familiarity sucks”.

      No kidding.

  4. DarkFenix says:

    Given how unilaterally OP the Warhound seemed to be from that video, couldn’t they just have nerfed it? Maybe make it specifically powerful against only certain unit types and a waste of time against others? If it’s supposed to be a late game Protoss basher maybe make it great against mech. Maybe give it the Goliath’s long range AA as a Colossus killer? Gotta be plenty of ways to bring something in line without hitting the delete button.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, that was my thought. Seems like an over-reaction.

      • DerNebel says:

        I think I need to pitch in here, since I think that many people are missing the ultimate point of why the Warhound seriously needed to be removed from the game.

        Consider this: The Warhound is a medium-ranged, high dps terran unit that has micromanagement potential and is also versatile enough to be used in a variety of approaches (main army, drops, counterdrop defense). Are you following me here? The Warhound was basically a 2 supply marine coming out of the factory, albeit with less micro-potential. When the designers at Blizzard admit that the Warhound was “a bit too all-round” they should be saying “wasn’t really all that different frmo a marine”.

        The problem with the way Blizzard has been approaching mech in StarCraft 2 isn’t that they’ve neglected it. It’s that they don’t fully seem to understand that there is no fundemental difference between massing marines and dropping with them to massing warhounds and dropping with them. There is a brilliant post at that explains this in a way more eloquent and thorough manner than me, but the gist of it is that the Thor, the Warhound and the Battle Hellion all suffers from the same design flaw: That the playstyle they encourage just is a bio terran with less speed and flair.

        When the author says that he basically is playing Wings of Liberty against new units, it is because the new units don’t really help the terran play any differently against either protoss nor zerg. If, hypothetically, the warhound was nerfed as Jim suggests above, it wouldn’t remove the central flaw in the unit itself, that it is essentially an anti-protoss marine.

        The central idea here is that factory units does not equal a mech playstyle. When people in the Starcraft community wants Blizzard to make mech viable, they are referencing StarCraft 2’s gargantuan predecessor in Brood War, where a highly stationary mech army consisting of tanks and vultures was standard in both Terran vs Protoss and Terran vs Terran. The strength of this army was that it could remain stationary while still responding to remote threats of a more mobile army by way of spider mines to lock down passageways that couldn’t be coveres with tank fire. But since tanks are way weaker in Starcraft 2 and Widow Mines are proving to be almost worthless, mech still is highly situational and extremely difficult to pull off.

        So, in conclusion, the Warhound needed to be removed from the game because it wasn’t significantly different than the marine and only served as a poster boy for the factory units.

        BTW, here is the post if you want to check it out: link to

        • seniorgato says:

          That actually makes a lot of sense.

        • DarkFenix says:

          Just had a read through that post, it really actually does make a lot of sense. Terran play has struck me as very boring in its homogeneity since forever. Could never put my finger on precisely why (mainly because I suck at SC2).

          Still strikes me that they could quite easily change the unit rather than delete it outright.

          • AbsoluteDestiny says:

            They almost certainly can change it and they might change it yet. It was removed because in its current form it was a major distraction in the beta. Most play involving terrans involved a unit that wasn’t working but was massively influencing the metagame, so it’s been removed entirely until they know what to do with it. It may return or something else may appear in its place or other things will change making it moot.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Well written and very informative post. Though I must admit, I might be biased here: I have always thought the weakening of tanks in SC2 was a huge blunder on Blizzard’s part. I.e. the argument that tanks need to be stronger is always going to sit well with me.

          In my opinion SC2 has never lived up to its potential due to the philosophy underlying the unit design, illustrated best by the removal of low-mobility strategic options such as the huge siege tank armies of TvP and ZvT lurker lines. SC:BW games would often see forces spread across the map like a massive chess game, whereas SC2 seems to involve death blobs roaming around the countryside engaging in a series of duels like a couple kings leading their knights around.

          I shouldn’t opine too much, my grasp of SC2 isn’t very good. It has always bored me, and I’ve never gotten good at it for that reason. Well, I just don’t care for the current model of RTS design, really. Hopefully Planetary Annihilation will resurrect the Total Annihilation style of play, where base construction and map control are king, and unit micro consists of right clicking several hundred units into the enemy base across the map. (/hyperbole)

          • DarkFenix says:

            Their reasoning was probably (given SC2’s obvious e-sports focus) something to the tune of “siege battles aren’t much fun to watch”. Which they generally aren’t, they involve a lot of minimalist back-and-forth for a long time before anything decisive (read: fun to watch) happens. Like with the long TvT game video in that linked post, sure the Vulture play is amazing, but for most of the game nothing is really happening.

          • Vandelay says:

            I wouldn’t say that the units are really the source of the problem, although could definitely do with some work. The real issue is the map design. Once you reach mid-game, there are generally only really a couple of places that you need to defend with the majority of your units, due to the mostly linear progression you make with expansions. You also do not normally have that many bases and there aren’t many to grab in each map, with larger maps having at most 4-5 each, including your start location. The maps are also pretty much all symmetrical (all symmetrical?) so you generally end up with with a close game consisting of players holding there side of the map and most fights occurring in the middle.

            To solve the death blob mechanic then, they should have balanced asymmetrical maps (not easy, granted) and more expansions with less resources at each, to force you to seek more cash.

            I actually think a lot of the units are heading in the right direction. They are trying to have more area of denial options with the Widow Mines and the Swarm Host (no Protoss love here though – in fact, don’t particularly like their additions). No one is going to build these though, if the enemy doesn’t need to split their forces.

          • kio says:

            It’s definitely not the map design, though you’re somewhat right about bases providing too many resources. The main difference from BW in that regard though is that the worker AI is far more efficient in SC2. The Fewer Resources per Base project died out partly because map makers don’t have access to AI scripts.

            link to

        • John Magnum says:

          A fascinating post from Team Liquid, but I am kind of raising an eyebrow at his suggestion that mech play doesn’t exist in any of the games that feature armored units and tanks except Brood War. There may be a very cool and unique style of play in Brood War, but trying to narrow the meaning of “mech play” to mean “siege tanks + vultures in Brood War” seems… off.

          • subedii says:

            Yeah, I actually agree with DerNebel’s post on the reasons why the Warhound doesn’t fill its role, but when the TL post threw in a Dreadnought from Dawn of War and basically said “Hurr durr this isn’t Mech play either” I feel as if they were missing the point.

            You’re talking about very different gameplay styles, and the manner in which vehicles and walkers behave (and their associated costings and opportunity costs) in the DoW series very definitively puts them as different from other more standard units.

            CoH probably even has a steeper differentiation there.

          • DerNebel says:

            Which is why CoH is a brilliant game. Every unit has some control scheme, some way of making your unit so much stronger than it would be by simply attacking.

            Artillery units have setup, infantry have cover, grenades etc, vehicles have problems off roads, and furthermore, the units interact brilliantly, for example an artillery unit when setup can only fire in a cone 90 degrees wide in front. This gives the more mobile infantry the possibility of avoiding the artillery fire altogether, which is further augmented by all the cover the CoH maps usually supplied you with.

            Granted, I didn’t play CoH that much, since Starcraft 1 and DotA took way too much of my time back then, but from what I’ve played of it, it really deserves all the praise it got. Bottom line is, fun should always be priority one, Brood War, CoH, Red Alert and so on got that right. What seperates the good games from the great is unit complexity and depth of gameplay, and Brood War and CoH absolutely flattens other RTS’s here, including SC2 imo.

        • tinners says:

          I don’t think the warhound really had much micromanagement potential to be honest. Apart from pulling back weakened units it was pretty much a-move.

        • Sic says:

          I didn’t read the TL post, but it seems it facilitates my argument of why Spider Mines should return, and it should return on the Hellion (which basically is the Vulture).

          The mine needs to be more effective, it needs to be more mobile and it needs to be balanced by the fact that it is deployed with a mechanic that gives it drawbacks (deployment unit is more valuable, need to factor in usefulness of deployment unit in build etc. etc.)

          I simply hate the Widow Mine, it just feels like an awkward sub-par copy of the Spider Mine. It’s just so simplistic and sloppy. A return of the Spider Mine might have been lazy, design, but not as lazy as the Widow Mine.

        • Groove says:

          Quite right, although I have to add something.

          A key point that you never expressly mentioned (although implied by marine-like) is that with the expansion Blizzard is trying their hardest to dampen ‘deathball’-style play.

          For the uninitiated, a deathball is simply clumping up the largest, strongest group of units you can then just attacking straight through the enemy for the win. They’re bad because they mean you don’t need to use strategy or skill, that if you build a certain unit composition then you’ll win just because the units are good and they control themselves.

          With the expansion Blizzard have added units that don’t work in deathballs at all (widow mines, oracle, mothership core, viper, swarm host) and units that work best with micromanagement (battle hellion – transforming into the regular hellion and running off to harrass between fights; tempest – needs a spotter, so either behind your army or in your army with a forward scout). The warhound was entirely contrary to this, as the most deathball-ready unit in the game. You basically couldn’t micro the warhound, it had no activated abilities and it didn’t need support unless the enemy had air units (so you could build highly effective armies of just warhounds). It meant that the entire design of the unit was flawed. They can’t bring it back without going back to base principles (a mech unit that’s anti-mech) and starting over, simply making it’s ability be activated or lowering the damge won’t cut it.

    • Dominic White says:

      I think it might go a long way to explaining Blizzard’s enormous dev cycles if this is any kind of example of how they operate. Create a whole new unit, model, textures, sounds, animations, place in the build list, put it in beta.

      Overpowered? Delete it all and start from scratch.

      • Rotekian says:

        Actually I think they intend to bring the Warhound back later. They removed it because it was distorting the balance and preventing other units from being used. Why build anything other than Warhounds?

        Once they work out how to balance it, I’m sure the Warhound will be back.

      • iaguz says:

        The unit is also probably going to appear in the single player campaign as well as be available in the Custom map creator.

        But yea it’s a pretty huge move. That’s blizz for ya. They threw out so many units they had skins and animatinos and sounds already done in WoL too.

        • samsharp99 says:

          True – it’s a big waste of design/development resources if they don’t bring it back in some respect. I’d definitely rather they took it out of the game after all that work than leave it in or nerf it without careful consideration. Better to remove bad design before you make it worse.

    • CuddleBunny says:

      At that point it would just be a better version of the marauder. Armored, +damage against mech, but with the haywire spell.

      • tinners says:

        Well haywire wasn’t a spell was it? If it was maybe that would make it more balanced.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me if a tweaked Warhound or something similiar eventually reappears. Blizz sure isn’t hesitant to pull the trigger on something that isn’t working, release schedule be damned.

    • Moni says:

      I don’t think it being overpowered was the reason they ultimately removed it.

      The reason was because it was too much like the Marauder, a sturdy unit that kills other armoured units. Its just not interesting to have units with overlapping roles.

  5. DK says:

    For starters they need to let the tanks fire on the move, like turreted tanks *should*. Make non-deployed tanks something you want to have in some situations, instead of the caravan to deploy location they are at the moment.

    • JWill says:

      Starcraft 2 tanks can fire on the move. They do the same DPS as when deployed, but no splash damage. Undeployed tanks are often used in small engagements and in cases where you don’t want to stop and seige up (for example when attacking another Terran’s deployed tanks).

      Reference: link to

      • DK says:

        I’m talking about common sense fire on the move, not 100 APM click for every single centimeter fire on the move.

        • Pozen says:

          I honestly feel like you’re slightly exaggerating how hard it is to micro un-sieged tanks. You can a-move and they will do the job you suggest and it doesn’t take much micro to use them efficiently like that.

  6. dubusadus says:

    Build-time on the Warhound’s 45 seconds (which is identical to a warpgated High Templar, if that’s any indication of how damn long it takes to build). The sandbox video doesn’t give you a good idea of how long it’ll take to make 30+ warhounds. We’ll see how it all works out in tournament play but, for now, it seems to be pretty balanced in HotS beta casts or, at least, it’s not as OP as you’re making it seem.

    • JWill says:

      About warhound build speed… In Starcraft 2 build time isn’t really a judge as to how long it’ll take to assemble a large army, because players can have a lot of factories building units in parallel. Resource cost and supply cost are the main factors.

      Build time is mainly important in the early game, since there’s a delay between spending money and actually getting the unit.

      Having watched SC2 progamers stream HoTS, it seemed a unanimous opinion that warhounds were too good. Including Terrans. They’re good in the early game for harass (pop one out quickly) because their move speed is a bit faster than normal units, and their attacks reach farther. But where they really shine is late game, mostly because of their supply efficiency.

      Supply efficiency is important late-game, because armies in Starcraft have an upper limit on allowed size. Each different unit type has a “supply cost” (eg 1 for marines, 2 for marauders, 3 for seige tanks), and players are allowed a max of 200 supply. The warhound can handily beat any other 2 supply unit in small or large engagements.

      • Ateius says:

        But how does the situation shake out when the Protoss or Zerg spam some of their tide-turning spells, like psi storm or fungal growth? I’ve seen Terran armies literally melt away to nothing under a few casts of those. Like in Brood War, when a Defiler could cast Dark Swarm and reduce any Terran army’s DPS to nothing just as the Zerg move in. Isn’t the whole idea that the Terrans have very powerful one-on-one units but the other two races have lots of ways to alter the balance other than hitting things?

  7. Blad the impaler says:

    The video is instructive.

  8. Yosharian says:

    As a Terran player, I find the race to be so incredibly hard to macro properly that I rarely have time to think about unit strategy. If I micro and macro the hardest I can possibly do on my basic marine build, I can maybe play around 60-70% of the speed my opponents play at. If I try something different, like a mech build or reaper harass or whatever… that number goes down to about 25%. From my perspective the game just requires way too much dedication to enjoy.

    So yeah, I can’t see me using either the battle hellion or widow mines.

    Still gonna buy the expansion and enjoy the campaign though.

  9. Makariel says:

    Too bad. I like playing Terran (suits me more than the other two races), but got bored by pure bio and my attempts getting creative with anything which isn’t bio or a siege tank were doomed. I don’t particularly like siege tanks, they are just turrets that you can roll around in between attacks. Hence I was really looking forward to jump into the fray with the new Warhound. But now… well… not enough new toys for me.

  10. Brigand says:

    Well David Kim said “If we locate a better design for the warhound, it will return to the beta; until then, please play the game and give your feedback without the warhound in mind.” so chances are something similar will be back in the beta by the end.

    Also they said recently they were working on a way to make the widow mine a “core terran unit”.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      My suggestion? make the window mine a burrowing mine -generator-. IE, the unit itself is not the mine, but it borrows and generates 2-3 mines around itself which regenerate itself, allowing for set and forget minefields.

      Unless of course the enemy brings a detector and any sort of ranged unit.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        And if thats too op, make the mine generation automate-able and cost resources (like the carrier used to do with it’s tiny carrier ships). Many protoss units used to generate their ammunition, and it cost a small amount of resources. Let the widow mine be a mine that makes other mines, for a small resource cost, and let me right click so it does it automatically if I want. Then it’s just a matter of adjusting the # of mines it can produce at once, or the damage and range of them, and it plays very well with the Terran’s dual doctrine of mobility (flying buildings) and static defenses (bunkers, missle turrets, siege tanks).

        Want some upgrades for those mines? Bouncing Bettie’s, so they can pop up out of the ground and even damage flying units. OFC any flying unit can just go AROUND the chokepoint said mines are guarding. Or, again, detector + ranged fire = dead widow mine.

      • Groove says:

        Nice idea actually, and one I hadn’t seen suggested before.

  11. seniorgato says:

    I’m very disappointed. Not ragingly disappointed or something. It’s just. Meh.
    The changes to multiplayer seem like very very slight tweaks.
    The new units are…. boring. They add slight tweaks to gameplay, but come off as, “didn’t expect that did ya?” kind of moves. The kind of moves that push the other player into over countering. IE overproducing anti air or wasting detection.
    The Warhound, was OP, but… it was interesting. You’re going to tell me that they couldn’t tweak it? They HAD to remove it from the game? They are freaking mechs! Sure, there’s the Thor, but cmon, it’s meant for other things. And here’s the part of Blizzard that annoys me most. They won’t replace it. Unless someone gets a bee in their bonnet (on the dev team), they are just going to remove it and that’s that. (I hope I’m wrong)

    But you know. I played the single player game. There are a hell of a lot of units already made. Why not expand! The units are there! Especially the terran units. Some of those are wicked fun and could really make multiplayer exciting.

    I just feel like Blizzard is afraid. They are afraid to take chances. Years of WoW. Years of watching Starcraft 1 and 2. Diablo III. You can just sense that Blizzard is afraid of hurting their bottom line. So much so that they are stagnating.

  12. iaguz says:

    As someone in the know, the reason the Warhound got removed was because the majority of pro players thought it was both balance and poor design.

    The problem with the warhound wasn’t that it was too strong (it was) it was that it was a boring a-move unit that crushed everything with limited application from the Terran player. Either the unit was super strong and massable and you only made that as your core Mech unit or it was weak and you never made it at all. Also, the Siege Tank is in the Terran arsenal, and that (theoretically) is your Core factory unit.

    The reason you don’t see mech vs Protoss in Wings of Liberty is for a few reasons. The first is that the tank barely damages a few problem units; Zealots (with charge), Archons and immortals (and spread colossus too), and that’s the biggest problem, you just couldn’t be cost effective vs Protoss and if you’re not being cost efficient with mech your not really going to win.

    Currently Mech is a fringe strategy that gets used once every thousand or so games and it mostly revolves around using Blue flame Hellions to murder as many probes as possible so the Protoss has half the units he’d prefer to have.

    The warhound when it was around was too strong and far, far too easy to use, you mass them and then you click A and then you masturbate vigorously whilst you won requiring extremely little effort.

    The other unit mentioned in this article, the marine, is different from the warhound in that they are fast and fragile. If you look up Marine splitting videos on youtube you can see some absolutely amazing things done. There’s a tremendous difference between Marines being used by a newer player and one done by some Korean super Gosu. There was no room for micro or anything fancy with the warhound, and if it existed then it was unnecessary, you just made Warhounds and won.

    The game is better off for the removal of this unit.

    • Yosharian says:

      This is the problem with starcraft, if a unit isn’t super complicated then it’s ‘bad design’.

      • iaguz says:

        No a unit can be simple design and still be good for the game, so long as rewards skillful players somehow. Warhounds did not do this at all and it overlapped with a unit that did-the Siege Tank.

      • JWill says:

        I’d argue the opposite. Or at least the perpendicular.

        The best units in strategy games are those that are simple, but expose unending depths in terms of strategy and control.

        Marines are like this.

        They are very fragile, small units that can deal high DPS in small increments over a medium range.

        Because they are small and shoot at medium range, they’re not very effective against melee units until you have a small clump (say 5 to 10).

        Because they shoot in increments, you can move them between shots.

        Because they’re fragile, you want to keep them away from melee units.

        Since they’re fragile and small (tightly packed), you’ll want to spread them out against splash damage.

        And then you start considering other units, and build time, and resource cost, and tech requirements, and upgrade timing attacks, and opponent strategies; any timings they expose where they’ll be weak against a marine attack…

        But of course you’re right. Even progamers can’t manage a lot of spells at once (watch zergs try to play a infestor-viper-roach-swarmhost army in HoTS). Spells definitely need to be sparse, and obviously not on core units like marines.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I think this is a design philosophy of Blizzard RTSs, which tend to be fast-paced and rely to a certain extent on learning optimal build paths and micro. Individual skirmishes aren’t as much about the positioning and maneuver of forces as some other games that make use of cover, suppression and directional armour, or at least the use of positioning and maneuver is different. So while simple units that just do damage might be interesting in another context, they’re not so interesting in a Blizzard game, where a lot of the interesting features come from the way different units interact.

        • Yosharian says:

          Super complex units just makes it more difficult to learn and play the game, elevating it to a level where only people prepared to sink stupid amounts of time into it are going to be able to have any fun.

          And no, it’s not a Blizzard thing, it’s a Starcraft thing.

          • Pozen says:

            This is basically any competitive game ever. All the units are simple enough in exclusion and generally aren’t hard to use, but the whole point is that the difference between you using them and Taeja using them (korean pro) is that he is hundreds of times more efficient. The point of the game is that each unit has a simple design and is generally easy to use badly, but to use well is very difficult. The best example is the marine, a unit which can only be moved or attack moved and yet get crushed by splash damage meaning that splitting them up is crucial. I can’t split them quickly, but Taeja can, however I can attack move them just as well as he can. Simple to use, impossible to master. That is their philosophy.

            It’s true of every good esport- street fighter. Anyone can punch, kick and block, but doing it well is an art. Quake- anyone can fire a gun but having the pinpoint accuracy and ability to move quickly at the same time is absolutely impossible to most people.

            So basically, yes the games are hard to get into, but that isn’t ‘the problem’ with Starcraft, that is the beauty of starcraft. If you don’t have the time to devote to it, tough luck, but it isn’t a negative thing, because if it was easy (and you did have the time) then it wouldn’t be worth playing.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Well, it and Warcraft 3. And yeah, I don’t have the patience to get good at this game.

      • Dingobloo says:

        You’re wrong.

        Simple units with good depth are Starcraft’s MO, you don’t need to understand a huge number of damage modifiers, you don’t need to know what % of each armor type this unit’s attack type does, it will just tell you it does 20 to normal 30 against armored.

        The depth doesn’t come from the complexity of the units, the depth comes from simpler interactions, too many units fill a choke so those behind cannot fire making longer range units better or a combination of melee and ranged units, units clump or have low base health and so are vulnerable to splash, then they line up in a certain way and are vulnerable to a different form of splash damage, one unit is faster than the other unless it sacrifices health, but those units can be healed.

        The challenge is keeping them simple and a huge amount of work has gone into using just speed, range, health and size before adding anything else to ensure it. It does take time to get good at the game, but it’s not because the units are complicated.

        Also don’t wish that evil on me Rich Stanton. Don’t wish that evil on us!

      • Sic says:

        How is the marine “super complicated” again?

        It’s about as simple as it can get. It’s a pawn. It’s how the player uses it that is (potentially) complex, which is what any game designer would strive for.

  13. Mr. Mister says:

    As someone who hasn’t play Starcraft II, and generally doesn’t lay RTSs competitively, I find this article quite the overkill.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      Why? It was a good read.

    • Crazy Horse says:

      This article killed my cat.

      • LionsPhil says:

        But did it kill your cat using the optimal distribution of resources and as as early into the build order as possible? Because otherwise it’s just not pro.

      • Crazy Horse says:

        It actually delayed going for the cat kill in favor of a cheap all in rush to harass my senses me and make me question my gaming orientation before transitioning to a mid-game feline assault. GG article.

    • Pozen says:

      Why? Balance of SC is directly relevant to a lot of people and believe me, this is about 1/100th as in depth as in can get when discussing this kind of thing. Wait until you see things about design philosophy of BW mech etc…

      If you’re not interested, don’t read. Don’t whinge in the comments that it’s not for you. I couldn’t give a toss about simulators, but I respect that other people do, so I wouldn’t call an article about them ‘overkill’.

    • mittortz says:

      As someone with the qualities you stated, who read the entire thing just to torture yourself and then comment about it… that strikes me as quite the overkill.

      It’s always a breath of fresh air to see Starcraft articles on RPS. I’m a fan of course, but even objectively, the game doesn’t get nearly as much coverage as it should on a PC gaming blog such as this. That being said, this article was very well-written and I loved reading it (I don’t often read entire RPS articles).

  14. AbsoluteDestiny says:

    Widow Mines can be used really well in the early game – they are a unit that requires detection that you can get on fairly early tech. This is horrific for a macro zerg who is wanting to get a fast 3rd – forcing to Lair or evos, creep spread and spores to detect the widow mines camping at their expansions.

    They are also quite good for defence – plant them near a mineral line and a banshee will fly in with confidence not seeing any missile turrets and bam, no more banshee and no scvs lost. A pretty good trade. They serve a similar purpose to frustrate early reapers and can be deadly against mid-game drop play. Offensively they can be used to contain, to force detectors to be made or scans to be placed. They’re not obvious but they are useful.

    The change I’d make is to give them a tier 2 supply-reducing upgrade. I think they’re the right supply for early game (they’d be too strong if you could get lots before appropriate detection) but they are too supply heavy for a late game army to justify.

  15. Alevice says:

    Personally I think they haven’t figured out what broader roles should be covered by new units. In Starcarft 1, for BW, they added an antiair unit (Valkyries against unit clusters, Devourer as an against heavy air, and Corsair against air casters) and a support unit (Medic as bio support, Dark Archon as semi anti caster support, Lurker as base defender); in WC3, for TFT, they added a support unit again (DragonHawk Riders, Batriders, Mountain Giants and Obsidian Statues) and specialized anti caster (Spellbreaker, Obsidian Destroyer, Faerie Dragon, with the Spirit Walker as somewhat of an exception).

    For starcraft 2, I tihnk the new units are all over the place – thousands of mechs for terran; a capital ship replacement and a caster that ideally should be support for protoss; a ground umm support and a support caster for zerg. They seem to be trying to cover some areas where the specific strats for each race were at flaw, without considering much what new overall strategies could be brought to the gme as a whole, which is why I think a lot of people just seem to feel this is WoL with a few extra units with dubious roles.

    It is unfortunate they dont seem to have realized that.

  16. Crazy Horse says:

    To make mech completely viable the simplest (perhaps only) solution is to give Terran more viable options to counter Marine/Marauder balls while at the same time being able to, at least partially, fill the roles of said Bio Balls.

    Ah right.. they did create such a unit but removed it as it was dangerously OP. But how can it be easy to create a legitmate alternative to Ye Olde Bio Ball that isn’t dangerously OP? The Bio Ball has some (few actually) innate weaknesses that Zerg and Toss desparately need for leverage.

    Supposing they give Terran units designed specifically and exclusively to disrupt Bio Balls.. Thats a thought which would make a Zerg player nervous.

  17. LionsPhil says:

    Dear God, that video. Swarms of units trying to pathfind around each-other, massively affecting the effectiveness of the battle by half the force not actually being able to fire before the other half is destroyed because SC2 balances unit fragility so high.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I don’t know much about AI, but it seems that not many games value unit cooperation in this way, i.e. squad-level tactics. I suspect that this is partly down to the point of the game being doing that yourself, but it’d be nice to have some autonomy so you can concentrate on other things (again, not the point of Starcraft, I know).

      • LionsPhil says:

        Indeed; that decision is why I don’t like the Starcraft side of RTSen, nor the way lots of modern RTSes (in particular what happened to the C&C series once EA had spat out Westwood) try to ape it.

        Even SupComm doesn’t fundamentally have better tactical AI; more that roughly-equal-footing units will trade more blows before exploding, giving others more time to spread out, bunch forth, and generally get into the fight. Dawn of War 1’s not hugely better, either; even though it models groups of many guardsmen or MUHREENS as a single atomic squad to command, the stupid buggers will merrily sit so that only half of them can fire, only half are in cover, only half are out of range are enemy fire, etc. (With IG, the squads get so big and the pathfinding becomes such a clusterfondle on the more maze-y maps with them plus tank support that squads just start spreading out and getting jammed up completely. Nightmare.)

        The funny thing is that I quite like lining up units neatly in C&C1, but that’s also a hell of a lot slower-paced.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Sup Comm is particularly infuriating when your air units bomb a base, but don’t prioritise anti-air, so unless you manually order them to fire on anti-air, they’ll get shot out of the sky blowing up power generators.

      • Squishpoke says:

        Starcraft 2 can’t even do what Age of Empires 2 did over a decade ago- group move and formations!

        Not to mention auto-build, which from what I remember Age of Mythology had as well (again, ten years ago).

        SC2 is still the same old game from 1998, all about wrestling with your retarded units and sticking to a meticulous build order. There is no room for actual strategy until you are basically at the highest levels of play, where you already know how to hammer on your keyboard perfectly for the correct amount of efficiency.

        • Crazy Horse says:

          The Zerg Horde laughs at your mere mention of group formations. Ho ho ho!

          Although your post has made nostalgic about Age of Empires. I used to have alot of fun with those formations over a decade ago.

        • Yosharian says:

          Yes, exactly! You put what was in my mind perfectly in words. I hate SC2 for this. It could be so much more, for people with ordinary skills/spare time.

    • Lamb Chop says:

      It’s interesting because all you’d have to do to completely change unit movement in starcraft is to have units preserve formation by default and only converge to a point with a special click action. Someone made a mod to demonstrate this, and I think it would make more complicated strategies more accessible and allow for more squad-level micro. As it stands, even someone like Stephano spends all his APM setting up a three-pronged flank.

    • LionsPhil says:

      In fact, playing a big Brutal-difficulty RA2:YR skirmish just reminded me what it was like when RTSes had half-decent AI.

      Your own units are still somewhat dense (although they can at least pathfind well enough to tell your Apocalypses “go drive to just outside the enemy base while the Kirovs pound the defences into the dirt”), but the enemy is a tricksy bastard who will try their damndest to avoid your defensive lines, rather than the SupComm AI where “harder” means “throws more units into the grinder that is your forward base/chokepoint and very occasionally sends an unescorted transport to a set flanking location”.

  18. RakeShark says:

    Having seen some HotS games, I’m still convinced that the Widow Mine more than makes up for the loss of the Warhound. They explode bio-balls of MMM, they explode Muta flocks, you can stick’em for tactical blocking at the opponents’ expansions like a zerg bastard. They hit goddamned air units. The Raven’s seeker missile looks like a foam playground ball compared to this.

    It’s going to force Zerg and Protoss (especially) to create and micro detectors around as they expand and push across the field, something those races aren’t used to for the most part, which can give Terran a few more seconds/minutes of breathing room to tech and supply up.

    Course, TvT will be immensely hilarious with bio-balls evaporating into a fine red mist every 30 seconds.

    • Yosharian says:

      Bullshit on the Protoss part, I get scouted by those damn invisible detectors every time I go up against a Protoss. It’s hardly challenging to bring out, and it’s not as if robo is a poor choice against Terran.

      For Zerg, yeah it’s a little more annoying to counter, but still not the big deal you make it out to be.

  19. soundofsatellites says:

    the problem is a lack of itemization and auction houses :D

  20. Xzi says:

    Why not just keep the Warhound, make it tier 3, and more expensive? Or tier 2 and a lot more expensive? Make it one of those units you can sprinkle into the bioball, but building more than two or three will kill the size of the rest of your army.

  21. ChiefOfBeef says:

    As a Zerg player the annoyance is how much attention is being paid to Terran in the first place.

    In the WoL beta, Zerg took the heaviest of nerfing with our bread and butter Roach going from a damage-taking unit that restricts enemy micro with a short-range but high burst attack, to a mere anti-mechanical that is the worst anti-mechanical in the game.

    A 200 supply Zerg army of almost any composition is weaker than a 200 supply army of any other race; that was never in any doubt and yet the Roach had the most severe nerf(a supply nerf) for this reason- that large Roach armies were too strong, despite their cost and inability to defend against air.

    In just about any serious game a Zerg will not only lose more units, but also resources- contrary to simplistic belief, Zerg has the most expensive armies, not Protess. Realising this, players began favouring the Infestor and Brood Lord. Blizz have introduced the Swarm Host, which is pretty much a cheaper and weaker ground-based Brood Lord. Fine for sieging earlier, useless in any unplanned engagement. Zerg continues to be in the position where mistakes are unforgiving and risks that don’t pay off don’t just set you back, they cost the match.

  22. Dave Mongoose says:

    Title referencing The Fast Show = Win

  23. Milky1985 says:

    The thing is, the warhound was removed during the same patch where they fixed the immortal bug where the rockets were not trigging the shield ability (not sure what its called but it basically means that it can take a max of 10 shield damage per attack) . The reason immortals couldn’t counter it was because the missles were doing full damage to immortal shields.

    Metagame changes aside they managed to make the counter unit not work :P

    I think they still need something new for terran. Currently the ability to basically have the firebat and a mine that takes up a fair bit of supply (terran are still the only race without a supply free ground defence) isn’t enough, not sure how they would fix it tho, a late game research that lowers supply for the mines as was suggested earlier in the thread and i think that is a good idea (200/200 or something for research). Also not convinced that the oracle and its entomb ability isn’t completly broken since they apparently buffed it recently.

  24. Dances to Podcasts says:

    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away – Antoine De Saint-Exupery