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StarCraft: The Board Game – Brood War Expansion» Forums » Strategy

Subject: The New Airborne Balance of Power rss

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Dave J McWeasely
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Brood War adds three new flying units to StarCraft. In the good old days flying units were simple: each race had a jet fighter, a big mothership, and a flying spellcaster. Broodwar upends all that and starts anew. Where are we now?



First lets look at the Protoss. the first thing to notice is that the Protoss used to have the biggest flying units, and they got a new, small flying unit, the Corsair, clocking in at 2/1 cost, plus 0/1 to get the building for them.

Like all the new Broodwar flyers, they can only attack air, and they have a typical +1 value when used in support. Their combat cards are 7/7, 8/8, and 8/6. (If these values look wrong to you, keep in mind I'm factoring in the card text that says stuff like "gain +2 if your FLU is a Corsair). With only three combat cards you're in serious danger of running out due to deck streakyness, so these little guys will never be the mainstay of your armed forces.

Also, unique among the new units, these guys don't have Air Splash Damage. They did in the video game, but their relatively puny attacks relegated them to hunting packs of lightly armored flyers - practically Mutalisk, Scrouge, and Overlords.

What they do have, though is a nifty technology: Disruptive Web "All opposing ground units in this skirmish lose air attack capability. In addition, your opponent's Air Support modules lose the 'Anti-Aircraft Defense' ability in this skirmish." (the latter is the +1 attack ability). You get two of these cards for two gas. This seems like a plausible retrofit against Hydralisks, Dragoons, Goliaths, and Stim Packed Marines, though of course you're not going to be actually hurting these fellows without ground attack. Of course, you can use the card from a support position, but the only unit that can concievably use the help is a Scout. Carriers are in general too studly to need the help against these sorts of units.

The last thing to note about the Corsair is that it shares its 8/6 combat card with the Dark Templar, its 7/7 combat card with the 7/5 zealot card ("the assasin"), and the 8/7 Dark Templar card (the best one). The 8/8 is paired with a Scout card. What I take from this is not to go with a Corsair/Dark Templar strategy. Which you would never have done anyway.

Aren't you glad you're reading this strategy article! I promise it gets better than this. Maybe not much, but some.

________________________________________________________________



Next up, we visit the Terrans, and their spiffy new Valkerie. It costs 1/2, so the same magnitude as the Wraith but a different combination. (Gas is IMO slightly easier to get than Minerals). It requires level 2 starport, which costs 2/2 in total, and it shares a tier with the trusty Science Vessel.

Its combat cards are as follows: 8/7 Flying Splash, 9/6 Flying Splash, and 7/7. Whoa! Flying Splash!! But only on two cards and no upgrades are avaialable. So like the Corsair the Valk won't become the backbone of your army, but on the other hand it sports a +2 when supporting, making it a perfect sidekick to a stim-packed marine (9 attack) or Goliath (10 attack) when going up against the big capital ships.

Obviously, you should try to set up cheese plays with the flying splash, for example, if you face a Scout and a Carrier, match the Valk up on the Scout, kill it, and you get the Carrier for free.

Valk cards also don't "shack up" with another unit type, like the corsair does with the Dark Templar. One card is Valk-only. Another sits with the Goliath, and the third is cohabitating with Vulture and Siege Tank. These combos are unlikely to cause problems.

The last thing to notice is that the combat cards are red-heavy, with the attack value exceeding the green by as much as three points. Think of them as stim-packed airborne splash assassins.

Overall, I give the Valkerie a thumbs up. It is a bit scarier than the Wraith, though of course the choice is going to hinge on a lot of factors, not least of them the commonality of ground units in your enemy's army.

________________________________________________________________


Lastly, we visit the Zerg. Ever the wierdos, the Zerg ended StarCraft with a non-standard complement of flyers. The Mutalisk was clearly their jet fighter, but unlike the other fighters, it excelled in an air-to-ground role, with many combat cards sporting Zergling/Zealot/Marine Splash Damage (hereafter "ZZM Splash"). Above it, there was the Guardian, which had a powerful air-to-ground attack but no splash and no ability to attack airborne units (such as Carriers). Thus the Guardian was not well-loved.



With Brood War we add the Devourerer. Just as the Guardian is a mutation of the Mutalisk to become dedicated air-to-ground, the Devourerer is a mutation of the mutalisk to become dedicated air-to-air. Its cards are 8/8, 8/8, and 7/9, so about on par with a Scout or Valkerie. Ho hum. It also gives +2 in support.

Sidebar: lets talk about the way air support works now for the Zerg. This is suddenly important because the Devourerer gets +2 support, and also because the Scrouge can suddenly benefit from other air unit's support. So the ultimate air-to-air assassination would be Scrouge + Devourerer in support, for 11 attack. 12 if you throw in a cheerleader card, and 13 with a golden order too boot. Clearly, the days of the Zerg being unable to pierce Carrier armor are over.

But back to the Devourerer: it also has two tech cards, improved flyer attack, costing 1/1 that it shares with the Guardian: 9/9 Flying Splash Damage and 9/8 Flying Splash Damage. These are the highest combat values we've seen all article long. In fact the highest single flying combat card is the 10/9 Increased Carrier Capacity card, and that card is one-shot.

Note that in a typical battle between an attacking Protoss with a Carrier and a Scout, and a defending Zerg with a Mutalisk and a Devourerer, the Protoss can't protect his carrier from the Devourerer - the splash damage will get it. Meanwhile, if the attack/defend roles are reversed, the Devourerer will pair up against the Scout and splash the Carrier out of existance, basically a 2:1 trade.

The down side of all this is the huge cost to deploy a Devourerer: First you need a mutalisk, which costs 2/1, then you have to pay an additional 1/0. The development cost, from scratch, would be the level 2 spire, plus the "Guardian and Devourer Aspect" tech upgrade, and probably "Improved Flyer Attack" for a grand total development cost of 4/3, two develops, and two builds. Needless to say, that's a lot.

However, the Devourerer needs to be looked at in the broader context of the Zerg air force. The Mutalisk remains the most capable "jet fighter" out there. Its combat cards are 8/7 ZZM Splash, 7/8 ZZM Splash, 7/7 ZZM Splash, and 7/6.



My theorey is that you use the Mutalisk as the backbone of your forces. This should shred opposing ZZM ground units, causing them to evolve either to larger ground units or air units. In either case, the Guardian/Devourerer cards can be brought online, and whatever they choose to go with, you can mutate mutalisks to deal with it. For example, Guardians make short work of Reavers and Dragoons while Devourerers should master Scouts and equalize versus Carriers. Because both of these tech trees are persued in parallel, you don't really care until you actuall pay to mutate your Mutalisk in the air.



Finally, I want to note that the Scrouge have gone up in cost to 2 gas, making them markedly less useful as flying splash absorbers. The new prefered way for Zerg to absorb flying splash damage is with Queens.

________________________________________________________________

Conclusion:

The Protoss, who had mainly Big Fat Flying Units, got a new small air unit.

The Terrans, who had medium sized flying units, got a new medium sized air unit.

The Zerg, who had teeny tiny flying units, got a pair of big air units, one specializing in AA and one in Air-to-Ground. The costs to switch between them are annoying but possibly closer than you'd think at first.

Things look interesting indeed.


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Stan Noordman
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Awesome review about the air units! Excatly what I needed because I was already wondering about the differences between the anti-air units. Don't you agree the Corsair is a tad underpowered and situational? If I'd ever go Devourer/Guardian I'd make sure I get the Recharge research aswell.♠
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Underpowered compared to how it is in the video game? Well maybe they don't shred Massed Wraiths quite as well as you'd expect, but I don't see that often in pro play. In fact, in pro play the only time I see them built is against Zerg, and then they are quite effective at stilting Zerg production by hunting Overlords, then transitioning to fight mass Mutalisk at some point. I'm not sure I've ever seen them built in PvT or PvP.


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EMELT
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Great review!

XGDragon wrote:
If I'd ever go Devourer/Guardian I'd make sure I get the Recharge research aswell.♠


There would be no benefit to getting the recharge upgrade with regards to the Imporved flyer attack cards. The improved flyer cards are for frontline units. They are not considered 'reinforcement technology cards'.

The recharge ability is only used for researched technology cards that have the + sign at the top of them (those are the 'reinforcement technology cards').
 
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XGDragon wrote:
Don't you agree the Corsair is a tad underpowered and situational?


I agree but I actually got a lot of use from them on my first actual game with BW.

I got one of the new planets for my base that had 2 air only locations, with one of them allowing all orders to be "Special Orders" if you control the area.

My first turn order were, build for Robotics, build for Corsair, and two special order research which allowed me to draw 4 event cards, one of which gave me the strategy that allows me to play 2 event cards each regrouping phase.

They also helped save my carrier hero twice when my friends tried to snipe the carrier and I used web. [Which got me thinking if they defend bases and are attacked by ground units, with web, corsairs "win".]

Underpowered, yes, but they are also "cheaper" while having roughly the same #'s of a scout + carrier escort option. Games with more BW planets also decreases the situational uses.

Eventually I ended up winning the game and I felt the corsairs balanced out the carrier and scouts. I also must mention that I only built corsairs and I got all my scouts/carriers through event + leadership cards.
 
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Oliver Krebs
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Nice review i totally agree with. Only thing i have to mention is that Scourges go up to 2 gas has its good things to. They now have another mechanic and can easily destroy a cruiser or carrier (There is a 9 attack card + support or yellow order). That was nearly impossible before
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Mike
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*Scourge, not Scrouge
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MisuVir
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DreamStorm wrote:
*Scourge, not Scrouge


That typo had stood firm for four years. I don't think it was necessary to correct it.

Scrouge is the new rouge.
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Jonathan Folkert
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MisuVir wrote:
DreamStorm wrote:
*Scourge, not Scrouge


That typo had stood firm for four years. I don't think it was necessary to correct it.

Scrouge is the new rouge.


I often misspell "scourge" as "flying shrimp."
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