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StarCraft II Q&A batches/49

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Art Updates
The StarCraft art team have been making massive updates to the Zerg faction, adding various new animations and improving even further on the textures of Zerg units and buildings. A picture is a thousand words so check out the updates for yourself!

Zerg Drone (Before/After)

Zerg Overlord (Before/After)

Zerg Hydralisk (Before/After)

Zerg Overseer (Before/After)

Zerg Baneling (Before/After)

Throughout the development process, the team is constantly reiterating and improving on the game in every way. As mentioned before, the Infestor too is getting a makeover, becoming much creepier and intimidating – you definitely don’t want to end up helpless at the will of this thing!

Zerg Infestor Concept Art

The StarCraft 2 team has made a number of changes in each of the races as the game gets closer to Beta. These are some of the new weapons and abilities that are currently being tested on the battlefield.

Protoss Dark Pylon
Long used only by the Dark Templar of Shakuras, the Dark Pylon is now used by all as the Protoss war for survival becomes more desperate. In addition to providing supply and giving power to nearby Protoss structures, the Dark Pylon has several unique abilities that require energy to use.

Proton Charge: an area-of-effect ability that gives all targeted Probes additional charge for their Proton-Cutters. Probes that have an additional charge gather additional minerals per trip when collecting resources. The Proton Charge lasts only a short time before dissipating.

Null Shield: a single-target ability that causes a Protoss Shield to shimmer and warp, cloaking the targeted Protoss unit. The Null Shield lasts only a short time.

Argus Link: a single-target ability that transfers energy from the Dark Pylon to any energy-using Protoss unit.

Screenshot: Proton Charge in Action

Terran Orbital Command
The Terrans rely not only on the troops they can train on the battlefield but also on troops called from deep space. The Orbital Command allows the Terrans to make use of their orbital assets to support their fight on the ground. As an upgrade to the Command Center the Orbital Command can create SCVs and serves as a drop location for collected resources. In addition it has several abilities that require energy.

Calldown Mule: sends a single automated mining robot by drop-pod that assists SCVs in collecting resources by working around current SCV mining operations. Unfortunately the Mule is still in the prototype phase and has a limited battery supply (timed life).

Calldown Extra Supplies: sends additional supplies to a targeted Supply Depot. Generally used by Terran commanders only in an emergency to allow them to support additional troops.

Scanner Sweep: using a satellite in high-orbit, the Terrans reveal a large area anywhere on the map and detect all cloaked units within the target area.

Screenshot: Mules Everywhere!

Zerg Queen
The Zerg Queen has continued to evolve over the last few months. She is a fierce defender of the Zerg Hatcheries and can often be found in small groups defending the larger Zerg infestations. In addition to defending her Hatchery from ground and air threats, the Queen has several special abilities that require energy to use.

Build Creep Tumor: with a mighty push from her bowels, the Queen creates a cluster of organic tumors that generate additional creep. In recent months the Zerg have mutated to move more quickly on creep, making this an important function for the Queen.

Spawn Larva: by injecting Queen ichor into a Hatchery, Lair or Hive the Queen can cause the Zerg structure to undergo a startling metamorphosis. The Hatchery starts to throb and green sacks swell up on the structure. Eventually four additional larva burst out of the Hatchery and land next to whatever larva are already wriggling around nearby. While a Hatchery hosts more than 3 larva, the Hatchery will not spawn additional larva, until that number drops below 3.

Razor Plague: with a great breath the queen exhales a cloud of tiny Zerg creatures that create a vast swarm nearby. These creatures attack all enemy creatures within their swarm, doing additional damage to biological targets. What makes it worse is the Zerg player can control the swarm, moving it around to attack whatever enemies he wishes until the swarm becomes exhausted and dissipates.

Screenshot: Incoming Swarm!

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 49---

1) I am very curious... previously, SCVs, Drones, Probes, Vultures, Archons, and Dark Archons hovered above the ground so they were not hit by mines. My question is simple: Are there any hovering units in Starcraft 2? If there are, can they hover over shallow water? -Ancientdefender (

If Spider Mines stay in the game, then there will be hovering units. Shallow waters are currently just a visual effect and will not ‘play’ differently.

2) How does the Mutalisk attack work in StarCraft II, what defines its bouncing pattern? Is it random or not? If not, what is the criteria that defines how it bounces? -Kain175 (

Regardless of the position of the Mutalisk, when its attack hits a target, it will then acquire the next target based on proximity to the first target. The attack will always bounce to the next closest target.

3) Is it possible to toggle off Multiple Building Selection (MBS)?

4) Balancing of 2v2 team play: Roaches + Medivac are too over powered for 2v2 team play unit combinations?

The regeneration rate of the Roaches and the healing of the Medivac will not stack upon each other.

5) What is a good counter for Zerg against Marines, which are upgraded from the original StarCraft?

Zerg actually have a few options that are quite effective. Zerglings can catch Marines out in the open and surround them relatively easily. Secondly, Banelings with the burrow ability are also very effective. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a group of Marines walk over a burrowed Baneling. When it unburrows – BOOM! Another counter that can be used are Roaches with burrow. A player can burrow a Roach at low health for it to regenerate back to full health in seconds, at which point it can unburrow and begin attacking the Marines again.

In late game, Infestor’s with their fungal scourge ability, which causes a biological unit to take damage over time until the unit explodes and does an area of effect damage, decimating groups of Marines easily if the opponent is not fast to react. Additionally, Ultralisks with their new cleave attack as well as 200 more hit points from the original StarCraft also make them an excellent counter to massed Marines.

6) How do you keep the Baneling from exploding on targets that you don’t want them to hit?

The Baneling now has an ‘attack building’ ability now which allows players to have more control over what the Baneling attacks. Players no longer need to worry about Banelings accidentally exploding on a building when they actually wanted it to hit a unit.

---End of Transmission---[1]

Additional CommentsEdit

A few questions:
- How does one construct a dark pylon? Is it a separate, more expensive replacement for the original pylons or an upgrade?

The Dark Pylon currently costs 150 minerals (50 more than normal Pylon) and has the Gateway as the prerequisite building. This of course is all subject to change while more balance testing is occuring.

- I assume the orbital command is now a replacement of the surveillance center? Does that mean people who opt to upgrade their CC's to a planetary fortress are no longer able to beneft from these new features, even without the use of salvage?

Yes the Orbital Command is what the Surveillance Center used to be. If you build a Planetary Fortress you will not be able to use these new features, but your command center will be upgraded to Armor 3 and have a Ibiks Laser that does 40 splash damage with a 6 range. These stats are of course all subject to change through balance testing.[1]

I don't suppose Proton Charge would stack, hm?

Nope they don't stack, but if casted again, it will renew the duration of the ability.

Some more questions:
1. The new infestor (pure awesomeness BTW), resembles the reaver in shape and looks rather slow. Is it super slow? Can you tell us anything about its speed?

The Infestor will still be relatively slow, though they have been sped up a bit from when you guys last saw it.

2. In 1 screen shot there are 15 eggs hatching. We know the hatchery can make 3, then the queen can make the hatchery add 4 more. So in this shot, did the the Queen use her ability multiple times in quick succession or would she have to wait until the firs 7 hatch before she can use it again? I guess what I am asking is if the hatchery can only spit out 4 extra larva at a time or if you can tell it to do it 4 times and have it spit out 16 larva?

After the original 3 larva, each Hatchery can only be spawning 4 larva at a time. The ability cannot be used again on that Hatchery until those 4 larva have spawned.

3. The mules help the terrans by essentially being SCV's that mine fast right? Do they help the other SCV's mine faster as well? Can they build things? Do they cost supply since they are only there for a while? When they "run out of battery" do they shut down until you "recharge" them or do they explode and disappear forever?

Mules will not help other SCVs mine faster. They will also not be able to build anything, but will be able to repair buildings and units. Furthermore, they will not cost supply. Multiple Mules can be dropped at any given time as long as you have sufficient energy available. When the Mules run out of battery, they will not be able to be recharged, and new Mules will need to be dropped.

4. Is the fungal infestation a long range attack (like parasite and spawn broodling were) or does he have to be rather close?

It will be a ranged ability. This is one of my favorite abilities, it really wrecks mass Marines which are quite a force to be reckoned with at the moment with Medivac support.

A few more questions:
- Can the mule defend itself?

Yes. It currently has the same attack value as a SCV.

- Can the drop pod be placed anywhere with line-of-sight, leading to the mule being used as a scout?

Yes, this can be quite helpful in some circumstances. Originally, each drop ship spawned 3 Mules, but it became a bit too advantageous in scouting 3 places at once.

- Does razor swarm damage both ground and air? What about friendlies?

It does currently damage both ground and air, but not friendly units.

- Can null shield be cast on non-Protoss allies?

Currently, yes.
Yes, this also means cloaked Siege Tanks are possible... ;)

Nonetheless, remember all things are still subject to balance.

The Dark Pylon and Queen are tier 1 tech. IIRC the Surveillance Station required the Shadow Ops to be built (making it tier 2), is this still true of the Orbital Command?

The Orbital Command requires a Barracks first to be built. The Planetary Fortress requires an Engineering Bay first to be built.

With the queen you can build up larva. Say you don't have a tech building up yet but you want a ton of that units, you build up larva (you can see 15 in that screen shot--that's 5 hatcheries!), then when tech finishes, you get a ton of that high level unit.
Also, mutant larva hatch faster.

These are no longer 'mutant larva' so they will not hatch faster, but everything else is correct :)[2]

Is there anything that would prevent you from offensively dropping mules in the thick of battle? (For example it *might* be useful to drop near units that would then cause things like siege tanks to attack them and while ultimately leading to a very short lifespan for the mule, could lead to splashing a player's own units with damage)

This is theoretically possible, but the animation of the drop pod that hits the ground is a bit long (roughly 5-10 seconds), so it isn't like an instant drop.

/misses mutant's hoping they come back in beta!
Also, Karune, does that then mean that these larva do not cost supply? If that is the case then another advantage over a hatchery is if you mess up and forget to build enough ovies (or you just had a bunch of ovies get sniped), then instead of having to wait for more ovies, you can build mutant larva and not lose unit making time in the end.

They do not cost supply, they are just normal larva. The concept of Mutant Larva with timed life seemed more tedious and much harder to grasp in gameplay than the current reincarnation, which has definitely sat much better with the team and testers.

1) Was the new infestor art looking so much like a Reaver done on purpose? Maybe a joke to all the guys asking to put the reaver back?

The Infestor has a completely new model different than the Reaver, but does coincidentally have the same shape as a Reaver. Don't forget, Reavers will still be seen in single player as well as the map editor.

2) Terran and protoss now have abilities to both increase they're income temporarily (mules + dark pylon) as well as abilities to increase they're offensive production (reactor + warp gates). Zergs only have a production ability (mutate larvae). Are zergs getting something to fill the temporary income role? Or is the mutate larvae supposed to just pump drones to make up for that?

Being able to spawn additional larva can potentially help Zerg production quite a bit actually. Prior, when a Zerg player hatched offensive units, they were always sacrificing the creation of more drones. This ability allows more bandwidth to create even more offensive units for a big push, build more balanced with more drones and additional units, or double up on the teching effort with all drones. There are a lot of options to play with that will surely inspire many new strategies.

1) How far in tech is the dark pylon cloak?

All 3 abilities are available right when the Dark Pylon is created.

2) Can dark pylons be used as a warp-in end that gives energy to your HT's?
Sneaking a cloacked probe and placing a pylon in the back of the enemy base for warp-ins and hidden cannons sounds like fun ^^

Yup, everything a Pylon can do, a Dark Pylon can do better :) but of course at a cost.[3]

Are queens still unique? What about motherships?
What tier are the lurkers? Are they still late-game units?
Are hydralisks still better anti-air than anti-ground? What are their damage stats?
Have a nice day, by the way :) Thanks for the huge attention you've been giving us today!

1) Neither are unique.
2) Lurkers are tier 3. The Lurker Den requires a Hive. Banelings are much better for earlier AoE, and Lurkers are a good siege type unit in addition to its previous uses. They have a range of 9 which outranges Protoss cannons and have an attack of 15 + 15 to armored (including buildings).
3) Hydralisks are still slightly better against air, with air to ground attack stats of 10 + 6 armored and ground to ground attack stats of 10, both with range 6.

I'd like to know how much energy the Dark Pylon has, how much those abilities cost, how long their duration is, and their CD. The energy transfer and cloaking abilities sound really cool :D
I can see a ton of potential for combing a Dark Pylon with Warp Prisms + Warp in :D. I realize all this info would be subject to change, but having that information to talk about would be great :D

Dark Pylon has 200 energy.
Proton Charge costs 50 energy and lasts for 30 seconds.
Null Shied costs 50 energy. No cool time, as long as you have enough energy, you can use this ability.
Argus Link drains 75 energy per second from the Dark Pylon.

Also... Does the infester move at the same speed when burried or is it slower? does it move faster when burried on the creep?

Infestor moves slower when burried. And all Zerg units move faster on the creep.

Does the Dark Pylon's and Orbital Command abilities have a cast range or can they be casted on the entire map??

Dark Pylon's abilities has a cast range.
Orbital Command's abilities technically don't have a cast range, since MULEs can be dropped any place on the map and Extra Supplies only can be dropped on the Supply Depot. And as you know, Scanner Sweep can be used on the any map location.

1) Does these new awesome abilities replace that weirdo gas mechanic that no one liked or are both in the game?
2) Did the queen lose her heal?
3) Does the dark pylon cloak lasts long enough for a probe to walk from his base to the back of the enemy base? Or long enough for an early ~3 zealot rush with a proxy dark pylon at the enemy's door to do some economic dmg before the enemy can do anything?
4) Can you cloak air units such as phase prisms?
5) Does the queen creep tumor can be build off creep or only expands existing creep?

1. Some changes for the gas mechanic.
There are still two Vespene Geysers and workers will harvest Vespene Gas until the entire gas is exhausted. Once the gas is depleted, workers will stop harvesting gas, which means there is no deplete gas mining like the original StarCraft.
2. Queed doesn't have a heal ability.
3. Target unit only can be cloaked for a short time.
4. Yes, you can cloak air units through Null Shield.
5. Creep Tumor only can be created on the creep.

* All contents in the current build still can be changed.[5]


How advantagous would it be to have 2 or 3 Dark Pylons next to your workers to constantly vitalize their efforts? Is that possible?
Also, for Terran Mules, can they mine a mineral patch with an SCV simultaneously? Or will they have to wait their turn? Do they carry the same minerals as an SCV or more or less?

1. It is possible.
2. MULEs can mine a mineral field with a SCV simultaneously. MULEs carry more minerals than a SCV.

Is there any chance of the dark pylon being renamed? Between the dark templar and dark obelisk, I think the 'dark' prefix is a bit common. Plus, a little story nitpick, it just seems odd that the dark templar would design a better pylon than the khalai.
Does the null shield work on buildings?

Love the new models. The overseer pic kinda confused me, since the new one is on the left. The overlord's new glowing sides are just fantastic. Maybe it was mentioned previously, but I hope the overseer's eyes move.

You can't use Null Shield on the structures.

are the HP/shields of the dark pylon the same as those of the regular pylon?
are there any intentions to give regular pylons abilities so that to make them more attractive (since as you said, dark pylons do everything best for only 50 additional minerals)?

Dark Pylon has 200 Life and 100 Shieds, but Pylon has 200/200 Life/Shields.
So Dark Pylon can be destroyed little bit easier than Pylon by enemy units.

Karune, does the proton charge ability affect gas collection in any way, or does it only affect minerals?

It only affects minerals.

1. Can Argus Link be set to auto-cast? or: Can I right click it from another unit to access this? (I have a High Templar selected and right click the nearby Dark Pylon for mana, much like a moonwell in WC3)
If both are no then I suggest this :)
2. Also, as someone else mentioned...will it be possible to say like set up about 3-4 dark pylons around your gatherers and (assuming you are macro-intensive enough) constantly switch between them and keep the field up?
3. Does the effect on the probes only work for minerals, or vespene gas as well?

1. You can right click Dark Pylon from High Templar for energy.
2. Possible.
3. Only for minerals.

Yes, i know, but Cydra has said "All zerg units", and that could be changed, specially counting with the new harvesting improvements for terran & protoss. That's why i´ve asked.

Not for Drone, sorry for the confusion.

Tell us more about this Queed unit! We're all excited to know about new units in SC2!

Sorry for my typo.
There is no Queed unit! ;)

Is 50 energy the initial amount out of a new Dark Pylon? I think it'd be nice if Dark Pylons didn't power, but still supplies and has a smaller-than-pylon-power passive cloak field ^-^
That way you can't exactly Proxy DPylon with Warp-In as well.


Yes, the initial amount of energy is 50.

That's surprising, cause this screenshot ( shows clearly a probe carrying gas (or a green cube which i assume is gas) with those funky animation effects...
Does that mean that gas-harvesting probes receive a movement speed bonus, but not a harvesting speed bonus? or dont they get any bonus at all?
Not that there'd be a huge difference, considering the limiting factor is not assimilator-to-nexus-time but instead the time-inside-assimilator; however it would affect in situations where you're microing your probes to escape from a harassing attacker.
Can you please confirm this? Many thanks as usual ;)
PS: notice my signature!

Because Proton Charge is AOE ability, all Probes within the ratio will be affected. However Probes that have an additional charge gather additional minerals per trip. It is not like movement speed bonus or harvesting speed bonus.[6]

Don't worry, i just wanted to be sure, Thanks a lot :)
Btw... another question (i'm so sorry now :P). So, now when a geyser is depleted, the workers stop their work, but... the "recharge" of the geyser stills in the game? or when the geyser is depleted you're forced to search for a new one?
Again, thanks :D

Thanks for saying that!

No 'recharge' of the Geyser, and you need to find another one with your expansion.

Cydra, can you tell us how the Calldown supply ability actually works?
1)How much does it cost?
2)How much supply does it grant?
3)Can depots that have additional supply called down still drop into the ground?
4) Is the extra supply permanent or temporary?

Thx, You guys have made my day!

1. Calldown Extra Supplies costs 50 energy.
2. Extra Supplies increases the supply output by 2.
3. You can still lower/raise your Supply Depot after calldown Extra Supplies on it.
4. It is permanent and looks different from the Supply Depot, which means you'd better take out this Depot first when you attacking the enemy Terran base. ;)

Aw, so the Assimilator/Extractor/Refinery will be left unattended? Question: Can you construct vespene harvesting building on a depleted geyser?
Vespene's been turned into a finite resource now :O


They will be left unattended.

No, you can't construct a harvesting building on a depleted Geyser. And you can find the different graphics for the depleted Geyser, it turns into more red color.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Karune. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49. StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  2. Karune. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 2). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  3. Karune. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 3). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  4. Karune. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 4). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  5. Cydra. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 5). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  6. Cydra. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 6). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.
  7. Cydra. 2009-02-18. StarCraft II Q&A - Batch 49 (page 7). StarCraft II General Discussion Forum. Accessed 2009-02-18.

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