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In preparation for Season 2 of StarCraft II, the ladder map pool is receiving some new additions. The new 1v1 maps are King Sejong Station LE, Overgrowth LE, Merry Go Round LE, and Waystation. The maps being removed are Polar Night, Yeonsu, Daedalus Point, and Heavy Rain. This makes the full Season 2 1v1 ladder map pool as follows:

Complete 1v1 Map Pool for 2014 Season 2
Alterzim Stronghold TE
Frost LE
Habitation Station LE
King Sejong Station LE
Overgrowth LE
Merry Go Round LE
Waystation

 

For the full list of new maps, including maps for 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4, click here.

Source:
Battle.net - New Ladder Maps for 2014 Season 2

On March 12, David Kim held an open Q&A on Reddit for a few hours. He answered various questions regarding tournaments and balance, and it's definitely worth checking out.

Q: Are any "large scale" or "mechanic" redesigns being considering for Legacy of the Void? For example considering changing mechanics around high ground advantage, the soft 3 base income cap, warpgate, etc?


David Kim:
We're currently working on all parts of the next expansion, but everything is a work in progress. If something is problematic, we would discuss it and try possible changes. But one of our core philosophies on SC2 design is if the change isn't completely amazing, we prefer not to do it.

So in this specific case, things like high ground advantage working the way it does currently vs. how it worked in BW vs. other advantages we can think of that are different, it's really hard to clearly say that one mechanic is better in all the cases. Overall, we are trying various changes in various areas, but it's really difficult to say for certain what will go through at the end of the day.

When you guys have good suggestions on specific problematic areas as well as possible solutions, we definitely discuss and/or try those things internally as we work on the next game to be able to know exactly why or why not we're deciding on a certain area. Eg. We've tried and still retry things like different suggestions for the Swarm Host, more harsh counters to Force Fields, or old units like Lurkers, and so on.

 

For the full Q&A, click here.

Source:
Reddit - StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Balance Reddit Q&A

StarCraft II patch 2.1.1 is out! It seems to only contain bug fixes, so there shouldn't be any large changes to gameplay.

StarCraft II 2.1.1 Patch Notes

Bug Fixes

  •     The Follow Unit shortcut (CTRL + SHIFT + F) is now working properly.
  •     The game should no longer return an error when you create a lobby with Extension Mods under certain conditions.
  •     Games created with private Extension Mods can no longer be opened to the public.
  •     A Viper can no longer be prevented from Abducting a unit by another Viper queuing Abduct on the target unit.
  •     Custom icons for Groups and Clans should now update properly after they are changed.
  •     Fixed a bug that caused a discrepancy in the displayed number of members in a Group.
  •     Fixed a bug preventing player and map attributes from publishing properly in multiple regions.
  •     Fixed a bug causing the game to crash when Take Command was activated on a replay.
  •     The UI overlay can no longer be activated while a new or saved campaign mission is being loaded.
  •     Fixed a bug preventing some achievements from correctly counting certain actions.
  •     Achievements are now being properly awarded on StarCraft Master.

 

Source:
Battle.net - StarCraft II 2.1.1 Patch Notes

There are a few posts on the Battle.net forums related to upcoming balance updates, most notable of which is a modified release schedule. Due to current ongoing tournaments, Blizzard has decided to push back the balance update's release for Europe only:

As David Kim mentioned in his recent forum post, we’ll be moving forward with a new balance update this week. However, we realized that our original release schedule for Friday, February 28 would offer WCS Europe Premier League Group F competitors just a few short hours to practice with the new changes. Instead, we’re going to slightly alter our release schedule by holding off on the balance update for the European Battle.net region until after the Group F broadcast concludes on Saturday, March 1.

With tournaments on-going across the globe, there’s never a perfect time to roll out a balance update, but we want to make sure our target dates will have the least amount of impact possible on upcoming events. Once again, this schedule change will only affect Europe and we are still planning to release the update for all other Battle.net regions on Friday, February 28.

 

David Kim also posted about the upcoming balance update, explaining some of the changes that will be coming :

Widow Mine splash damage increased from 40 to 40 +40 shields
We’ve seen a little confusion surrounding this change and we’d like to clarify that it does not change the Widow Mine’s single target damage. As for the splash damage, this is how it’ll work:

• Up to 1.25 radius, splash damage will increase from 40 to 40 +40 vs. shields.
• From 1.25 to 1.5 radius, splash damage will increase from 20 to 20 +20 vs. shields.
• From 1.5 to 1.75 radius, splash damage will increase from 10 to 10 +10 vs. shields.

Hydralisk attack delay decreased from .83 to .75
We believe this change is good for all three match ups after testing. In ZvP, it seems to make a significant difference even though it’s turning out to be not as big as we initially thought before we started testing.

Mothership Core vision decreased from 14 to 9
After testing, this change is turning out to be quite a bit of a nerf for Protoss in terms of early scouting. It also makes the army vs. army case a bit weaker for Protoss in terms of the vision the Mothership Core provides, especially when vision is critically needed, such as during Feedback vs. EMP battles.

 

For the full David Kim post, click here.

Sources:
Battle.net - Modified Balance Update Release Schedule
Battle.net - Next Balance Patch Soon

There's a small balance update for Heart of the Swarm, which includes the following changes:

Protoss

  • Mothership Core
    • Time Warp energy cost increased from 75 to 100.


Terran

  • Ghost
    • Ghost starting energy increased from 50 to 75.
    • The Moebius Reactor upgrade has been removed from the Ghost Academy.

 

The reasoning behind these changes can be read here.

Source:
Battle.net - Heart of the Swarm Balance Update: February 4, 2014

Over the last few days, Blizzard has given a few previews on the various features coming in patch 2.1. Most notable of these is the extension mods preview, which explains how to use extension mods and how they will change the game.

As a developer, Extension Mods will allow you to develop a mod containing a set of parameters that can be published to Battle.net and applied to any StarCraft II melee map by any player. Long gone will be the days where you need to set up each map you want to use with your custom mod and publish an individual, unique version of that existing map.

As a player, you’ll now be able to use Extension Mods to play your favorite game modes on any StarCraft II melee map, completely changing the way you play. The kinds of modifications that are possible are virtually endless; they can range from build order trainers to unit testing sandboxes to adding completely new races.

 

These extension mods will allow players to take any map available and play Big Game Hunters on it, or to make all units explode on death, or make minerals wander around the map!

Next up are the new levelling incentives. There are three new portraits and three new decals, based on StarCrafts by Carbot Animations, that will be attainable through levelling to the new level cap, level 35. In addition, there will be a "First Win of the Day" bonus that gives 100,000 XP for the first game you win in the day. This bonus is separate for each race, so try to win at least once with each race a day after patch 2.1 is released!

Sources:
Battle.net - Patch 2.1 Preview: Extension Mods
Battle.net - Patch 2.1 Preview: More Levels and New Rewards

Blizzard has uploaded a Top 5 StarCraft II Highlights of 2013 video, showing off some of what Blizzard considers to be the most memorable moments of 2013. Enjoy!

 

Source:
YouTube - StarCraft II Top 5 Highlights 2013

The winners of the Community Choice Awards have been chosen! Each category had several nominees, and the community voted on their choice of 2013's most notable StarCraft II players. The winners of each category are as such:

EU Player of 2013 - Johan ‘NaNiwa’ Lucchesi

WCS America Player of 2013 - Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn

WCS Korea Player of 2013 - Lee ‘INnoVation’ Shin Hyung

2013 Global Player of the Year - Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong


Congratulations to all the winners! Here's to another awesome year of StarCraft.

Sources:
Battle.net - EU Player of 2013
Battle.net - WCS America Player of 2013
Battle.net - WCS Korea Player of 2013
Battle.net - 2013 Global Player of the Year

Now that the nominees have been chosen, it is finally time to vote for your favorite StarCraft II players of 2013! You can head over here to vote for nominees in each category. May your favorite nominee become one of the 2013 StarCraft II Community Choice Award winners!

Source:
Battle.net - Vote for the 2013 StarCraft II Community Choice Awards

In the upcoming StarCraft II patch, Patch 2.1, the classic StarCraft soundtrack is returning, and will be here to stay. Once Patch 2.1 is on your computer, you will be able to go into the sounds settings of StarCraft II and select which soundtracks (StarCraft II, StarCraft Vanilla) will play while you... play.

Patch 2.1 is currently live on the Public Test Realm, so if you want to hear the remastered classic StarCraft soundtrack for yourself, just look here for how to get on the PTR!

Source:
Battle.net - Patch 2.1 Preview: Classic StarCraft Soundtrack in StarCraft II

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