By: Galen Andress
The silhouette tease of an arc-winged warrior of Aiur was only a brief taste of what's in store for Protoss players in the first Starcraft 2 expansion: Heart of the Swarm. After a quick playthrough, here's a brief rundown of the new Protoss units and abilities in the Heart of the Swarm multiplayer demo.
In Heart of the Swarm, the Nexus has a pair of new abilities that will help Protoss players on the defensive.
Cost: 25 Energy
Effect: Place an anti-light cannon on top of any structure for a brief period of time.
This will be a nice defensive ability for Protoss players protecting an early expansion, and later on in the game for protecting outlying expansions against small raids. It seems like there could be potential to use this ability to protect proxy Pylons during an early attack as well.
Cost: 75 Energy
Effect: Transports selected units to target Nexus
The Mothership is gone, and the Recall ability has been moved to the Nexus. Because of the high energy cost, it seems that this is an ability we'll only see in the later stages of the game, and as a defensive/retreat measure.
There are three new units added to the Protoss arsenal in Heart of the Swarm, while the Carrier and Mothership have been removed. There are two new units that come from the Stargate, and a new unit from the Robotics Facility.
Built from: Robotics Facility
The Replicant is a really interesting unit. It builds quickly, has very low hitpoints, and has no base attack. The core function of this unit is that it has the ability to transform itself into any non-massive unit. It seems like it will help Protoss players be more flexible in the early game, being able to replicate a Sentry for a few more Forcefields or an Immortal for some extra stopping power early. I can see alot of potential for speeding up tech switches as well in the later stages of the game, by banking up a few Replicants and transforming them into a shiny new Stargate army. We'll have to see.
Built From: Stargate
The Oracle was the most interesting addition to the Protoss arsenal. It is a spellcaster with no base attack, moves quickly, and has three different, very unique spells.
Phase Shift – Target structure is phased out of existence for a brief period of time. During this time, it can't be attacked, use abilities, provide power or tech. Massive structures (Command Centers, Hatcheries, Nexus, etc.) are immune. This ability seems like it will be very flexible, with offensive and defensive capabilities. Phasing out important buildings of your own during an attack could prevent having to rebuild a tech tree, and powering down important tech buildings of your opponent can slow down certain timings and upgrades.
Preordain – Placed on a target enemy structure to gain vision of what it is producing. This will be a useful scouting tool, gaining intel on what upgrades and units your opponent is getting. I feel like this will be very nice against Zerg to see what Hatchery upgrades (Burrow, Overlord Upgrades) they are getting, as well as the upgrades from their tech structures, and seeing what is coming out of Terran Techlabs at specific times.
Entomb – Prevents mining from target Mineral patch for 45 seconds. Can also be used to remove Entomb from patches of your own. This is a nice harrassment ability that can do a ton of economic damage, especially if you get a few Oracles flying all around the map.
Built From: Stargate
Although it pains me to see the Carrier go, I have a feeling that the Tempest is going to fit into the Protoss arsenal very nicely. One nice upgrade from the Carrier is the movement speed is a little quicker on the Tempest. It's AtA attack does AoE damage, which will be good for dealing with masses of Mutalisks, and help soften up flocks of Vikings and Corrupters that are aiming to take down Collosi. Its AtG attack is slow, but does a pretty good amount of damage, so it will be best to target down high-hitpoint targets. I feel like the AtA attack will be the most important part of the Tempest for the most part.
After only 30 minutes of play, it's hard to say exactly how the units will carry over into competitive play, but there is definitely alot of potential. Stay tuned for a rundown of the new units and abilities of Terran and Zerg!